Ruthless Aussies meet mercurial Pakistan

Ruthless Aussies meet mercurial Pakistan

Defending champs have their work cut out against Michael Clarkes pace battery

Ruthless Aussies meet mercurial Pakistan

Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi

Without a shadow of doubt, Australia have looked the best side of the tournament, crushing all opponents in their path. They have been ruthless and merciless in their demolition of their rivals under skipper Michael Clarke.

In the previous two editions, Australia appeared to be struggling to come to terms with the format, but this time around, they are looking the side to beat. Pakistan, who sneaked into the semifinals through the back door, will need more than just luck to make their third straight final in as many editions.

Far cry
The slow and low pitch at the Beausejour Cricket Ground here is a far cry from the pacy and bouncy wicket at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, but the Australian battery of pace bowlers will still be hot to handle when they square up against Pakistan.

While Australia have been awe-inspiring, Pakistan have looked anything but that. On the brink of elimination after their one-run defeat to New Zealand in their second Super Eight match, Shahid Afridi’s men did well to beat South Africa and with a stroke of luck made it to the last four stage.

Australia’s robust fast bowling triumvirate of Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson may have been the talking point of the event, but their batting and fielding have been equally impressive.

Someone like Johnson, no mug with the bat, is slotted to bat at No 9 while Clarke himself has got very few chances to bat.

The lack of depth in batting and quality fast bowlers hurt Pakistan in Barbados, but in St Lucia, they were at home against South Africa with their spinners exploiting the favourble conditions.

It could well be a battle of pace versus spin on Friday. Australian batsmen, however, showed little discomfort against Pakistani spinners when the two sides met in the first phase at this venue, winning the contest with ease.

Shahid Afridi, though, was clear with his strategy. “We will play to our strengths,” said the Pakistan skipper. “We have three genuine spinners who could use the conditions here very well. Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal have been bowling well.

“We are confident they will perform in this crucial game,” added out the all-rounder, who too can be more than handy with the ball.

Clarke acknowledged his rivals’ strength as well. “They have a lot of spinners,” said the right-hander. “They have a lot of class. They have guys who have played international cricket for a long time. We need to play like we have played throughout this tournament. We need to be at our best both physically and mentally to play against this team, because they are a very good team.”

Afridi might have sounded a bit blunt when he remarked that Australia have only now learnt how to play T20 cricket, but you couldn’t agree more looking at Australia’s performances in the first two editions. Wiser and meaner for their experience, Australia now look unstoppable. 

Teams (from)
Australia: Michael Clarke (capt), Shane Watson, David Warner, Cameron White, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, David Hussey, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes, Nathan Hauritz, Tim Paine, Daniel Christian.

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (capt), Kamran Akmal, Salman Butt, Mohammad Hafeez, Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Saeed Ajmal, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Sami, Fawad Alam, Mohammad Irfan.

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