Australia v Pakistan, World Cup 2015, 3rd quarter-final, Adelaide March 19, 2015

Australia hope Adelaide grass greener

51

Michael Clarke: 'We have to treat this like a World Cup final now. It's a crucial game - you lose and you are sitting and watching the rest of the tournament' © Getty Images

Australia are hopeful a well-grassed Adelaide Oval pitch will provide enough assistance for the hosts' fast bowlers to dismantle Pakistan and thus prevent their own strong pace battery from doing likewise in the third World Cup quarter-final.

The captain Michael Clarke and the national selector Rod Marsh were seen in lengthy consultation with the oval groundsman Damian Hough on match eve, Clarke having already expressed his hope that no more grass would be shaved from the surface ahead of Friday's contest. Ground staff also watered the pitches either side of the match strip, reducing the chances of reverse-swing emanating from the abrasive parts of the square.

With the possible exception of New Zealand and South Africa, the match will be a meeting of the World Cup's two strongest fast-bowling units. Australia will choose one of Pat Cummins or Josh Hazlewood to support Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson, while Pakistan have the tournament's fast bowler in Wahab Riaz, backed up by Sohail Khan, Rahat Ali and Ehsan Adil. Batsmen on both sides may be in for some hopping around.

"Pakistan have some really good quicks in their attack and they've shown that throughout this series," Clarke said. "I think the pitch has certainly got quicker over the years. I think fast bowling will play a big part tomorrow. Especially if they leave that grass on the wicket like there is now, fingers crossed. But I think both teams have good fast bowlers in their line-ups. So the batters, we're going to have to make sure we play really well.

"Two good attacks on a wicket that looks like it's got a bit of grass on it. It's going to be tough for the batters but Australia in general. If you do get in as a batsman it's a wonderful place to bat, it's just starting your innings is always difficult. I don't care if it's 71 plays 70 to be honest, as long as we get the 71, or it's 350 plays 349, the numbers are irrelevant for me."

Pakistan's captain Misbah-ul-Haq has preached aggression ever since his side's surprise success against South Africa in Auckland, and he said this would be particularly important against Australia. As England might also be able to attest, it is impossible to just muddle through and play reactively against the team led by Clarke and the coach Darren Lehmann - they must be attacked.

"Australia always plays aggressive cricket, and if you want to really be up there against them, you also need a good, aggressive cricket, good, positive cricket, and that is the key," Misbah said. "If two teams are playing aggressive cricket, you still have a chance. It's not like that you go with the defensive approach against Australia and you can just win the game. It's all about aggression. It's all about attacking cricket, and that's, I think, what we are looking forward to."

Clarke shuffled Australia's batting order in their final group game against Scotland to allow himself and several other players some additional time in the middle. For this match it is expected to be back to the configuration glimpsed against Sri Lanka at the SCG, with David Warner and Aaron Finch followed by Steven Smith and Clarke before Glenn Maxwell and Shane Watson are used at Nos. 5 or 6 depending on the match scenario.

"Finchy and Davey will go back to opening, and then we'll assess," Clarke said. "I think against Sri Lanka ... Maxi came in at 5, but he was down to bat at 6. It was just the situation of the game that we changed the order. I think our order is pretty flexible, so, like I said, apart from the top two that will open the batting and have done so really throughout the whole tournament apart from one game to try to give a few people a hit, the rest is very flexible.

"We'll work out the situation of the game, batting first, batting second and assess. And I think that's one of our great strengths that we've got a number of guys that have batted in different positions through their career and have enjoyed some success in different positions as well. So it's a good problem to have."

Less pleasing for Australia is the thought of elimination from their home World Cup at the earliest knockout stage. To lose to Pakistan in Adelaide would be more or less the equivalent result to 1992, when they missed the semi-finals due largely to a defeat at the hands of Imran Khan's men in Perth. Clarke put himself through an extended fielding and catching session after his chat with Marsh, having earlier acknowledged the gravity of the occasion.

"We have to treat this like a World Cup final now," he said. "It's a crucial game - you lose and you are sitting and watching the rest of the tournament, so we're just focused on having success tomorrow."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2015, 3:00 GMT

    I agree with "CHAUKAYCHAKKAY" You are absolutely right that all the big fuss is about making sure that Yasir Shah is not included in the squad.

  • Dean on March 20, 2015, 2:36 GMT

    To all those saying "Oooohh Aussies sound nervous blah blah blah"....yeah they probably are a bit, I would be, playing at home, expected to win and all that jazz, but don' confuse that for one second with them being "afraid" of playing Pakistan, because folks that's two different things. Australia will be a tad nervous its only natural, but so is aggression which we have in spades, and when the game starts there will be no place to hide and words will mean nothing......It could be close, but it could also be a slaughter!

  • Srikanth on March 20, 2015, 2:27 GMT

    The only area Pakistan need to be careful is batting. Their bowling is as good as any other team in this world cup. They just need to stay at the wicket and keep score board ticking. All the best to both the teams from India.

  • Cricinfouser on March 20, 2015, 1:47 GMT

    I am confident in Australia's abilities and I really hope Australia will live up to their expectations!!!!

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2015, 1:17 GMT

    Aussies are clearly scared since they want to make sure that the pitch does not help in reverse swing. I hope Pakistan wins today and knocks them out. This article is also very biased. On an a swinging pitch every bowling attack is potent. Let NZ try giving a swinging pitch to WI. Even Rusell will be tough to play, leave alone the front line bowlers.

  • Dummy on March 19, 2015, 23:40 GMT

    It's pathetic batting lineup for my Pakistan , that being said we need to restrict them to a score of 200 or less, with the ground realities as they are Aussies will win nine out of ten times,I am hoping this match is that tenth match..........good luck I blead green

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 21:41 GMT

    yup v rite.it would be great contest.just waiting how team pakistan will take on australia and win simply. all abt nerves. if pakistan get 270 game over australia

  • Dummy4 on March 19, 2015, 21:27 GMT

    Pakistan might match Australia in bowling, but they'll come nowhere close in batting and fielding. I have a feeling Australia will totally run over Pakistan.

  • Rama on March 19, 2015, 21:18 GMT

    All the talk about green pitch and praising fast bowlers is to divert attention and possibly nullify Yasir Shah's impact on the game. Pakistani fast bowlers are just as good as their Australian counterparts, its Yasir that Australia wishes was in their squad around this time.

  • Rehan on March 19, 2015, 20:25 GMT

    @NAVANEETHAN NAGARAJAN: You got it wrong. What Clarke means is that every game in the knockout stage is like the world cup final because if you lose that game you lose the world cup.

  • No featured comments at the moment.