World Cup

Pakistan & Australia will both be keen to win

Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi will be determined to sign off on a winning note inwhat could be his final match. Photo: Akhilesh Kumar  

Trying to conquer the turmoil within and the turbulence outside, Pakistan wishes to live to fight another day in the World T20.

Shahid Afridi and his men were glued to Wednesday night’s live action from Bengaluru with the hope that Bangladesh would upset India and give some strength to Pakistan’s complex quest for a berth in the semifinals. It was not to be.

Nevertheless, Pakistan has not given up its optimism. It is keen to record a win in its last group match against Australia at the PCA Stadium here on Friday before leaving things to destiny.

Afridi, a Pakistani legend in the limited-over cricket, has announced that he might hang up his bat after the Australia match. Of course, his team will be eager to give its flamboyant captain a befitting farewell. Afridi’s journey beyond Friday, in case Pakistan makes it to the knockout stage, will be even more fulfilling for the dashing entertainer and his side.

Barring its 200-plus total against Bangladesh, Pakistan suffered against India and New Zealand primarily due to its below-par showing with the bat. Especially, the poor finishing, following a bright start provided by Sharjeel Khan, against New Zealand hurt the side the most.

With the reliable Mohammad Hafeez still doubtful because of a painful knee, the team needs the likes of Afridi, Shoaib Malik, Ahmed Shehzad and Umar Akmal to take more responsibility and finish the innings strongly.

Pakistan’s bowling, depending heavily on its pacers Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Sami and Wahab Riaz, has been doing a decent job. The availability of Riaz, who missed the last match due to a minor injury, and the good showing of left-arm spinner Imad Wasim will encourage the team to do it for Afridi.

While Pakistan wants to make Afridi’s last hurrah a memorable affair, Australia has to do it for Shane Watson. With the long-serving, towering pacer-cum-top-order-batsman announcing his retirement from international cricket at the conclusion of the World T20, Australia, a five-time World Cup winner which is yet to bag a World T20 crown, will have more reasons than one to aim for the title.

Arduous task

However, Australia, which lost to New Zealand and managed a hard-fought win against Bangladesh, is faced with the arduous task of taking on two Asian giants, Pakistan and India, in its remaining group matches.

On a pitch promising high scores and a bit of help for the bowlers, the Aussies will be cautious of Pakistan’s unpredictability. It will also take care to tie up loose ends.

Australia has depth in its batting, led by prolific opener Usman Khawaja. It will love to see Steve Smith, Watson, David Warner, Glenn Maxwell and Mitchell Marsh live up to expectations.

Competent allrounders in Watson, Marsh, Maxwell and James Faulkner give Australia balance and offer options in bowling. Pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile’s economical effort and leg-spinner Adam Zampa’s good form should provide the side confidence.

The contest between two capable sides promises some intense action.

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Printable version | Dec 3, 2021 6:45:47 AM |

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