Australia face quirky Pakistan
The fever of the world cup is at the greatest heights and it is time for third quarter final to be played between formidable co hosts, Australia and the mercurial Pakistan.
Mercurial behavior of Pakistan team might just be the kind tournament favorites like Australia must be beware of. Knockout stages can bring the best out of these teams and then, as we all know, it is the matter of one good day at the office and suddenly you are two matches away from becoming the world champions.
Coming into the quarter finals and facing near invincible Australia should be more advantageous than detrimental to the team’s cause. Except for the team patriots and optimists, frankly, none are giving Pakistan a chance against Australia. This is to their advantage and the pressure is on Australia.
However, there is a rationale behind Australia being favorite by a county mile for the Friday’s encounter. The kind of cricket they have preceding to and during the world cup says all about the form they have been in.
Beating South Africa by the margin of 4-1; winning a Test series against India 2-0 and then emerging triumphant in the tri series where they were invincible against the likes of India and England.
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Whenever there is an ICC tournament Australia is always one of the favorites of the tournament. Now that the world cup is being played in their own backyard their strength has grown manifold. The spurt of allrounders in the squad has seen the batting grow till the number eight position and as many as seven bowlers to bowl. They have the best team balance in the tournament and now Shane Watson coming in at number six they are looking stronger than ever.
Some might argue that too many allrounders in the XI might haunt them at some stage. But we have to note here that they are all-rounders in true sense and not the bits and pieces cricketers. And with batsmen of the calibre of David Warner, Aaron Finch, Michael Clarke and Steve Smith in the top four the team is bound to do well. The batsmen have only three centuries till now and the highest scorer for them, David Warner, is at the seventeenth position on the most runs list of this year’s cricket world cup. However, they have lost just one game in the group stages, against New Zealand.
Their bowling has been a spectacle in this tournament with Mitchell Starc’s fiery spells reminding good old days of bowling. In an era where the rules are skewed in favor of the batting it is heartening to watch a bowler dominating batsmen the way he has. He pulled of an unlikely win for Australia against the Blackcaps as he scalped six wickets. Those deadly inswinging Yorkers are definitely a batsman’s nightmare. He aptly at the top of the charts of bowling with 16 wickets in five matches he has played.
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Pakistan on the other hand, as they always are, has been on and off in CWC15. After huge losses against India and West Indies in the first two matches of the tournament there were apprehensions over their qualification to the next round watching the form Ireland and Zimbabwe were in. However, a surprising win over South Africa in the group match brought them back into the tournament.
The encounter against Ireland was a must win for them and they won it without any hustle as they stormed into the quarter final winning by six wickets. Their bowling has come out with flying colors in the encounter they have won.
It was against South Africa that the bowlers strangled the batsmen with the pace and accuracy. Wahab Riaz was the pick of the bowlers. Against Ireland too bowlers did well to restrict them to 237 giving away just 49 runs in the last ten overs.
Batting too has found new found belief especially after the inclusion of wicket keeper batsman Sarfaraz Ahmed whose attacking cricket while opening has been inspiring. Two back to back Man of the Match performances means his confidence is high especially after the century in last match.
Can the flair of Pakistan bowling do the job for them against the strong Australian batting line up ?
Australia has hardly any reasons to change their playing XI and they will be unchanged for this crucial encounter.
Australia (probable) : 1. Aaron Finch 2. David Warner 3. Steve Smith 4. Michael Clarke 5. Glenn Maxwell 6. Shane Watson 7. James Faulkner 8. Brad Haddin 9. Pat Cummins 10. Mitchell Johnson 11. Mitchell Starc
Pakistan too is expected to go in with unchanged XI especially with Mohammad Irfan ruled out of the tournament.
Pakistan (probable) : 1. Ahmed Shehzad 2. Sarfaraz Ahmed 3. Haris Sohail 4. Misbah Ul Haq 5. Umar Akmal 6. Shoaib Maqsood 7. Shahid Afridi 8. Wahab Riaz 9. Sohail Khan 10. Rahat Ali 11. Ehsan Adil
Match is to be played at Adelaide Oval and till now three matches has been played at this ground in this tournament. Interestingly, Pakistan was involved in two of the three matches played here.
Totals of 300-275-237 were scored at this ground with team batting first winning two times while team batting first winning in the game where 237 was scored.
Pakistan won their game against Ireland on this ground to qualify for the knockouts.
Australia is 1.25 to win the knockout and qualify for the semis and the price is not to anyone’s surprise. With the home conditions, batting, bowling and fielding in their favor few would think that they will lose from this position. We are going in with Australia to win the match and qualify for the semi- final.