The 3rd quarter final of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 – Australia vs Pakistan – is set to be played tomorrow, March 20th, at Adelaide. The match is expected to be a clash of two teams which stand in sharp contrast to each other. While Australia have set and maintained considerably high standards in all departments, Pakistan have oscillated between excellence and mediocrity, throughout the group stage matches.
Australia – All about keeping their intensity up!
Australia have been impeccable in executing their plans in the tournament so far. While Mitchell Starc has come up with unplayable bowling spells, Maxwell has raised the bar in Australia’s batting. Michael Clarke, Steven Smith and David Warner have also played their part in Australia’s mammoth totals during the group stage action. Needless to say, one can expect the co-hosts not to be bogged down by the reputation of Pakistan’s bowling attack!
Mitchell Johnson expressed satisfaction, in a recent interview, at the way his bowling has improved during the last few matches. Johnson’s agony, early on in the tournament, was due to a fiery Brendon McCullum assault at Auckland. James Faulkner and Shane Watson too have chipped in with useful bowling spells every now and then. And given the infamous vulnerability in Pakistan’s batting order, we might see the two all rounders playing an important role tomorrow. A toss-up is likely to happen between Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins for the last bowler’s slot.
Pakistan – Inconsistent, but deadly in knock outs!
The men from Pakistan were almost written off after the first couple of games that they played in this World Cup. Defeats to India and West Indies in successive games seriously dented their status as a major title challenger. Things, however, changed soon afterwards.
Two men in particular have played a prominent part in giving shape to these changes. While Sarfraz Ahmed’s inspired inclusion in the side created wonders for the top order, Wahab Riaz has appeared to have been reborn after those first two games. The win against South Africa, at Auckland, proved to be the tipping point for Misbah’s men, and they have not looked back ever since.
Fast bowler Mohammed Irfan’s untimely injury, however, has dealt a serious blow to Pakistan’s chances against Australia tomorrow. The speedster has been ruled out of the rest of the tournament due to a pelvic fracture. The rest of the bowling unit, though, looks quite fit to take the challenge to the Australian camp. The Adelaide track is known for supporting both bowlers and batsmen, and Pakistani bowlers would be desperate to make the most out of it.
Sarfraz Ahmed had found it difficult to seal a spot in the side at the start of the tournament. According to media reports, the apparent flaws in his ‘batting technique’ were responsible for such an exclusion. However, Umar Akmal’s lack of experience behind the stumps and the team’s inability to find an opening partner for Ahmed Shehzad saw Sarfraz back into the mix, in the last few games.
The youngster responded to the team management’s gesture exceedingly well. Against Ireland, he became the first Pakistani wicket keeper to register a ton in the World Cup. With the opening worries sorted out, Misbah can realistically hope to experience a stable state of affairs when he comes out to bat at the crucial No 4 position. Besides, Shahid Afridi’s towering presence lower down the order is bound to keep the Australians on their toes!
In spite their shortcomings, the Pakistanis have taken out well prepared teams in knock out matches of ICC tournaments before. Taking a pragmatic view of things, tomorrow’s game can go either way.
Match Facts – Australia vs Pakistan
Venue – Adelaide
Start time – 14:00 (local), 09:00 (IST)