Thursday, March 19, 2015

Favorites Australia Face Surging Pakistan at Adelaide

Australia vs Pakistan at Adelaide Oval, Adelaide on 20th March 2015 - Match Preview

Australia started their campaign with a thumping win against England before sharing points with Bangladesh as the match was washed out. They then crossed across to New Zealand where they played a nail biter, a match they lost by the skin of a teeth. They won against Afghanistan before getting a scare from the Lankans, then were again almost frustrated by rain against the Scots.

Pakistan started with a listless performance against their arch rivals India in a high voltage match before being swept away by a resurgent West Indies. They have since got their act together as they beat Zimbabwe, South Africa, UAE and then Ireland in their last 4 games.

Pakistani batting has been spurred on by Sarfaraz Ahmed, who has looked attractive in the last two games that Pakistan have played. He is busy at the crease and is always on the lookout for runs. He may upset the line and length of the Aussie bowlers if he manages to stay at the crease for a prolonged period of time. Shahzad and Haris Sohail must play with intent and rotate the strike over. They are prone to getting stuck at one end which puts unnecessary pressure on the non striker.

Sarfaraz Ahmed will play a crucial role for Pakistan if they are to 
challenge the strong Australian bowling line up

Misbah Ul Haq also has the habit of playing far too many dot balls up front but he can be excused on the basis that he is the only player in this side who has looked most likely to score runs. Young guns like Sohaib Maqsood and Umer Akmal are bundles of talents but they must apply their brains and play smartly if they are to succeed against the Aussie quicks. Afridi must also not throw away his wicket and he must be motivated by the fact that he is retiring at the end of the World Cup, so he must want to go out on a high.

The Pakistani quick bowlers have been bowling in groups and they have turned in to a lethal attack since their game against Zimbabwe. The fire is back but with Irfan missing out with an injury, they seem a little less menacing. Wahab Riaz has been quick and has reverse swung the old ball while Rahat Ali has generated bounce and has been accurate and nippy.

The only conundrum for the Pakistani think tank must be whether to include the leg spinner Yasir Shah. He looked very good against Australia in the series these two played in the Emirates. If he misses out then I guess that Haris Sohail will bowl some overs as he has shown that he is a capable enough part timer.

The Aussie batting has the look of a heavy weight boxer who pulls back no punches and is ready to go on an all out attack. Big hitters like David Warner and Aaron Finch will always look to hit out and there in lies the opportunity for the Pakistani bowlers. Michael Clarke and Steven Smith provide the much needed calm and reassurance amid Warner/ Finch and Maxwell/ Watson/ Haddin.

Glenn Maxwell has the most unorthodox shots in cricket right now and he is pulling them off with mind boggling consistency. Getting his wicket early will go a long way in ensuring that Pakistan win or have any chance of winning this tie. Shane Watson also roared in to form with a splendid innings against the Lankans and with Faulkner and Haddin also lurking in the shadows the Aussie lower order fire power is second to none in this day and age.

The Mitch's have done very well as expected up until now and they have provided pace and bounce and lethal toe crushing yorkers. Their speed is what makes them fierce competitors but on a slow Adelaide wicket their pace might be something that the Pakistani batsmen find solace in. But that is easier said than done, as tackling them requires immense talent and skill. Pat Cummins, James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell will complete the rest of the bowling along with Watson and maybe Clarke will roll his arm over if things do not go to plan for them.

Key Battles: Australia vs Pakistan

Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc vs The Pakistani Top Order

Wahab Riaz vs Glenn Maxwell

Rahat Ali and Sohail Khan vs David Warner and Aaron Finch

The Australians are known to be ruthless in knockout matches and they are on a hot streak on their home ground. But Pakistan might find the inspiration and strength to win as they look to emulate the class of 1992. It will essentially boil down to how well the Pakistani batsmen fare and how well their fielding holds up against the quick Australians but it may also depend on which side their fast bowlers decide to wake up. The Australians are overwhelming favorites in this clash but I am not counting out Pakistan just yet!

PS - The image used is courtesy www.espncricinfo.com

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