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

Surging Pakistan prepare for dominant Australia


Match facts

Friday, March 20, 2015
Start time 1400 local (0330 GMT)

Play 02:33
Crowe: Australia have the best power game in the Cup

Big Picture

Contentious-selection riddled, injury-ravaged, have Pakistan limped to this quarter-final, or have they surged? Through their campaign, they have delivered to their fans that characteristic mix of infuriation and ecstasy. Against West Indies, Pakistan could not catch. Against South Africa, Pakistan caught fire. So they have oscillated through the tournament, invoking cornered tiger comparisons, even though 23 years later, they are playing a vastly different game, with a vastly different team, under a vastly different leader.

Misbah-ul-Haq's reading of the pulse of an opposition innings and the mood of his bowlers has underpinned Pakistan's latest spurt of form, but their performances have rallied around the efforts of two other men. Sarfraz Ahmed, whose batting technique deemed too flawed for opening by his own coach right before he was picked in that role, has brought dynamism to the top of the innings. In his panache, opportunism, and ungainly wicket celebrations, cricket has its latest quintessential Pakistan scrapper.

Wahab Riaz, meanwhile, has been the bowlers' inspiration, intimidating with bounce and slicing through top orders with pace. It appears Pakistan will sorely miss Mohammad Irfan, but then their bowling stocks have been shown to run staggeringly deep before.

The hosts, characteristically for them too, have never strayed far from the high standards they set on the first day of this World Cup, against England. Mitchell Starc's yorkers and Glenn Maxwell's reality-warping knocks have struck fear into opposition dressing rooms. But to even get to Maxwell, bowlers have to remove the likes of David Warner, Steven Smith and Michael Clarke first. 

Australia are, no doubt, better drilled, better rounded, and better placed to win this match. But as New Zealand have shown, they can be exposed too. The way Australia's tournament has gone, it is difficult to see them dropping their intensity, or buckling under the pressure of a knockout match, and Pakistan will know they must find something truly special to make the semi-finals.

Form guide


(last five matches, most recent first)
Australia: WWWLW
Pakistan: WWWWL

In the spotlight

Aside from four wickets in the demolition of Afghanistan in Perth, Mitchell Johnson has been a sidelight of the Australia attack, as Starc has reaped wickets and plaudits. Australia's uneven schedule has not helped his rhythm - there were, at one stage, two weeks between outings. But as the tournament heats up now, Johnson feels his bowling is too. "I just feel like I'm starting to click now," he said on Tuesday. If both he and Starc hit their stride, Pakistan's top order may need to dig deep.

Between Irfan's awkward bounce and Wahab's speed, Rahat Ali's swing and control have gone somewhat unappreciated. In the four matches he's played so far in the World Cup, Rahat has been the first-change provider of economy - he has not traveled at more than five an over yet. But he has also picked up at least one wicket in each outing, and had three against South Africa. In a tournament where middle-overs wickets have shaped matches, Rahat's tight, testing spells could be telling.

Teams news

Australia appear very settled. The only conundrum for the selectors appears to be whether Josh Hazlewood should play over Pat Cummins. The warm-up match in Adelaide gave Cummins 3 for 30, however, and he had also taken three wickets against Scotland, so he appears the frontrunner.

Australia (probable): 1 Aaron Finch, 2 David Warner, 3 Steven Smith, 4 Michael Clarke (capt), 5 Shane Watson, 6 Glenn Maxwell, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 James Faulkner, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Mitchell Starc, 11 Pat Cummins/Josh Hazlewood

As the pitch prepared for this match appears tinged with green, seamer Ehsan Adil is more likely to replace Mohammad Irfan than legspinner Yasir Shah. The Pakistan top order is unlikely to change.

Pakistan (probable): 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Sarfraz Ahmed (wk), 3 Haris Sohail, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq (capt.), 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Sohaib Maqsood, 7 Shahid Afridi, 8 Wahab Riaz, 9 Sohail Khan, 10 Rahat Ali, 11 Ehsan Adil/Yasir Shah

Pitch and conditions


Players have already spoken of this year's Adelaide pitch being quicker than usual, and with teams expected to be greeted by a layer of grass on the surface on Friday, it might become more seamer-friendly still. The pitch was covered by hessian on the eve of the match, presumably to retain its moisture, and the surrounding pitches have also been watered, which suggests reverse-swing may not play a major role. The weather is expected to remain fine through the day, with a high of 28 degrees forecast.

Stats and trivia

  •  Mitchell Starc is the World Cup's second-highest wicket-taker, with 16 scalps at an average of 8.50. Wahab Riaz is two wickets behind, but has an average of 22.42
  •  There have been eight World Cup encounters between these teams, each having won half of those. Pakistan won the most recent of those encounters, in Colombo, in 2011.
  • Of the batsmen from these teams, only Misbah is among the tournament's top 10 run-scorers so far. He has 316 runs at 52.66.



"I think Pakistan have been underrated for a long time, especially in the shorter form of the game. I think they've got a lot of talent. I think their attack is very good and they've shown that throughout this series."
Michael Clarke

"When you're playing more games at a certain venue you really just adapt to the conditions and know how the pitch will play, how the boundaries are, how the ground dimensions are. That can really help you."
Misbah-ul-Haq on already having played two World Cup matches at Adelaide Oval

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. @andrewffernando

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Sanjay on March 20, 2015, 3:19 GMT

    @MIKEPATT ON MARCH 20, 2015, 2:57 INDIA gonna rock.. OZ fans get ready for a bump in SF!! No six umpiring mistakes " to favour Australia as DRS is available Cheers...

  • RAM on March 20, 2015, 3:15 GMT

    pak won the toss n won the match ?

  • Asif on March 20, 2015, 3:14 GMT

    Will be a tight contest. Winner will be decided on which Pakistan side has turned up today. If it is the real one, Oz can expect to kiss goodbye today. Otherwise, we will wait to welcome the team back at home in Peshawar tomorrow the way we always do

  • Sharvan on March 20, 2015, 3:03 GMT

    pak..we want you guy in semi go for it..

  • Aim on March 20, 2015, 3:01 GMT

    Grass on the pitch. I have a feeling Pak batting line.up will be knocked over in a hurry may be even less than 150 if Misbah gets out cheaply. Pak fastmen are better than Aussie bowlers is exploiting tired out slow pitches, extract reverse swing and Pak needed a tired old pitch to make it a even contest.

  • Mitch on March 20, 2015, 2:57 GMT

    Oz gonna rock.. Ind fans get ready for a bump in SF!! Cheers...

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2015, 2:54 GMT

    Go Team Pakistan! Let's make the Semi-Final a bit interesting playing against India. I wonder what the surprise XI would be tonight but Good Luck Men in GREEN!

  • Amir on March 20, 2015, 2:52 GMT

    100% agree with you Mohammad Anwar. I admire Misbah very much. What a gentleman and a leader. I have a feeling we will see more of Misbah and PK cricket in this WC. They are not done yet. Respect, message from Bangladeshi cricket fan.

  • disco on March 20, 2015, 2:48 GMT

    Clarke is looking more relaxed than I have seen him for a while. Let's hope that we can do a professional job on Pakistan who will hopefully sharpen us up to complete our summer demolition of India in the semi.

  • Dummy4 on March 20, 2015, 2:46 GMT

    Everybody is talking of Pakistan batting first and defending the total with their bowling. I guess it's not too bad for Pakistan even if they bowl first. There are a few reasons for that. Surprsingly, this time the Aussies do not look that carefree - rather they look very cautious before the QF. They are very mindful of the fact what happened against NZ when they batted first and started hitting out from the word go. And they are quite aware of the Pak bowling which may turn out to be as good if not better than NZ. So Misbah, pull in your A game and let's see what happens.

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