Pakistan players with coach Moin Khan during a training session © AFP
By Abhijit Banare
Mar 22, 2014
After facing a demoralising defeat against arch-rivals India, Pakistan face another uphill task to not just regroup but be on top of their potential to defeat Australia in their second match of the ICC World T20 Group 2 encounter.
The Aussies are in roaring form with a series win over South Africa, and two authoritative performances against Sri Lanka and New Zealand in the warm-up matches.
The task for Pakistan starts straight with the openers in the opposition rank. It’s been a while now that David Warner has looked invincible and Aaron Finch has been equally consistent in the limited overs for Australia. The two can dominate and crush the confidence of the opposition. Against New Zealand, they smashed 113 in eight overs which indicates how dangerous they can be. With Shane Watson to follow, there’s no caution zone to follow for Australia in any part of their innings.
There’s one escape route to stop the Australian juggernaut and that’s precisely Pakistan’s strongest aspect — spin. There’s no doubt that the Aussies batsmen can’t be kept quiet but their attacking style would mean that Shahid Afridi and Saeed Ajmal become that more threatening. There are days when Ajmal is unplayable and Hafeez will hope it’s one of those matches, on Sunday. The Australian middle order does have the firepower in the form of Glenn Maxwell, George Bailey and Brad Hodge to back Finch, Warner’s onslaught. And all these three players are good against spin. So it will be an evenly fought contest.
As far as Pakistan pacers are concerned, Junaid Khan and Umar Gul, were erratic against India and conceded easy runs after tying down the batsmen early on. There will be an option to bring in Sohail Tanvir who is much more experienced in the format.
Pakistan already have seen the nature of the fresh wicket on Friday which had a little grass and offered vicious spin occasionally. Hafeez was confident during the post-match press conference of the India match that his spinners will play a major role in the matches ahead.
But all the bowling plans will go for a toss if Pakistan fail in their batting once again. Despite having good batsmen, they have managed to find some ways to squander the opportunities, with run-outs being the most favourable option. It’s time, they look to have a running coach as well! Yet Pakistan are unlikely to make changes in the batting line-up as this is their best option. Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik look like a solid middle-order.
As far as the Australian bowling is concerned, it does lack a bit of sting in the absence of Mitchell Johnson but Mitchell Starc and Nathan Coulter-Nile are accurate bowlers to be taken too easily. While teams all over are digging their spin reserves, Australia will depend on veteran Brad Hogg. At 43, the left-arm chinaman is still difficult to hit. James Faulkner is another impressive T20 bowler. Overall, Australia look unbeatable both with their recent form and the squad they have. It would be an extraordinary moment to see them being tamed by any opposition in this tournament.
Pakistan certainly have a huge task against a relaxed, confident Australian side. If they lose one more, their chances of qualifying for the last four takes a huge hit with defending champions West indies to take on ahead.
Australia: George Bailey (c), Daniel Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin (wk), Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Doug Bollinger, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez (c), Ahmed Shehzad, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Zulfiqar Babar, Umar Gul, Bilawal Bhatti, Sohail Tanvir, Mohammad Talha, Junaid Khan.
Time: 15:00 IST | 9:30 GMT
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(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)