Battle of the poor teams
AUSTRALIA and Pakistan have not enjoyed the best of times in the one-day arena of late.
Michael Clarke and his men were humiliated 4-0 by England last month and are now fourth on the world rankings.
Sixth-ranked Pakistan have fared just as badly, losing 4-1 to England and then 3-1 against Sri Lanka.
Now they have got to try and beat each other in a three-match series in the United Arab Emirates to end that dismal run of form.
The Aussies started their tour with a 66-run win over Afghanistan on Sunday, but Clarke, who scored 75 in the win, knows it will be a tougher test against Pakistan when the series gets underway in Sharjah tonight.
Clarke said it will be a hard fought series, with Pakistani spinners holding centre stage.
"I know it's going to be a hard-fought contest against Pakistan. I think spin in general is going to be a factor," he said. "To have success in these next three one-dayers, I think it is going to come down to whoever bowls spin the best and whoever plays spin the best will win the series.
"Pakistan are a very good one-day team. I think their greatest strength is definitely going to be their spin bowling. They got some really good spinners in conditions where scoring against spin bowling is going to be quite tough."
Australia have left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty in their squad to add to the leg-spin of Steve Smith, off-spinners Glenn Maxwell and David Hussey and part-timer Clarke.
Pakistan vice-captain Mohammad Hafeez said he hoped Pakistan's poor record against Australia would count for nothing.
"We always believe in performing well in every series. The history (they have not beat Australia since 2002) is also on your mind, but we are not bothered about it and start with an aim of doing well," Hafeez said.
Pakistan will rely heavily on their spinning trio of Saeed Ajmal, Hafeez and Shahid Afridi, more so because they left out frontline paceman Umar Gul.
"Our spinners got some success here against Sri Lanka and England with Ajmal, being one of the best in the world, so we have got good spinners for the conditions and hopefully they do well again," he said.