In-form Australia all set for tough Pakistan challenge

In-form Australia all set for tough Pakistan challenge

Unlike their build up to the previous World T20 in 2012 when Australia entered the event on the back of a series of defeats across all formats, the George Bailey-led side has come into the Bangladesh bash with an enviable record in Tests, one-dayers and T20s.

Having beaten England in the Ashes and the subsequent ODI and T20 series, Australia put it across South Africa too in both Tests and T20s in away engagements. The Aussies completed their perfect preparations for the tournament winning their warm-up match against New Zealand. They will be one of the strong favourites to win the one title that has eluded them and their first challenge comes against Pakistan in a Group 2 match of the Super 10 stage here at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Sunday afternoon.

For all their success in World Cups, Champions Trophies and Tests, Australia haven’t managed to win the World T20 title in their four previous attempts, once even falling short in the final against England in 2010 in the West Indies. Riding high on a long-stretch of wins, Australia will be tipped to win their opening contest against Pakistan in a day match but it all depends on how well their batsmen handle the myriad spin threat that their opponents unleash on what promises to be another slow pitch.

The likes of Mohammad Hafeez, Raza Hasan and Saeed Ajmal shared seven wickets between them to bamboozle the high-flying Aussie batsmen in Colombo. The defeat didn’t affect their progress into the semifinal but any repeat of such a capitulation may have a bearing on their prospects in this tournament. The Australian batsmen – the in-from David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Bailey among others – will have to quickly size up the conditions having played on the bouncy home and South African pitches over the last six months.

Bailey, however, exuded confidence that Aussie are well prepared for Pakistani spinners. “I think we have seen most of them now over a period of years or most guys have seen them at different times. It’s challenging. I guess you just talk about it as much as you can, reflect on those experiences of the past and you are forever trying to get better.

Certainly they have got three spinners in the top 10 in T20 cricket, they are a very, very strong spinning side and the conditions can be challenging for us over here but I think we have certainly got a strong batting line-up at the moment that hopefully can overcome them,” he offered.

Pakistan, on the other hand, would be concerned with their performance with the bat against India on Friday. On a surface where stroke-making wasn’t an easy task, the Pakistani batsmen struggled against both pace and spin, providing little for their bowlers to defend.

Pakistan chief coach Moin Khan stressed on the need to be aggressive against Australia. “We are one match down but I still believe in the abilities of my team. We have to come back very hard and play aggressive cricket. Otherwise it’s going to be a difficult match because their (Australia) attitude is very good. We have to fight it out. If we have a good attitude against Australia, I believe we can win.”

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