ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Australia v Pakistan, World Cup 2011, Group A, Colombo
Australia want to get serious
March 18, 2011
Match FactsMarch 19, Colombo
Start time 14.30 (0900 GMT)
The Big Picture
It's all about jostling for position in Group A with both Australia and Pakistan still eyeing a top-of-the-table finish and, potentially, a slightly easier quarter-final, although that is a debatable point given the form of teams on in the opposite group. These two teams have served up some classic confrontations in their time and Pakistan were the last side to beat Ricky Ponting's team at a World Cup - way back on May 23, 1999.
Australia remain the only unbeaten team in this edition having overcome Kenya and Canada in Bangalore, but not without a few unconvincing moments with bat and ball. The sight of Ponting losing his cool is a clear sign that he is far from happy with how his team are currently shaping up in what has been a odd tournament for them. Their biggest match, against Sri Lanka, was washed out and the rest have been easy - perhaps too much so.
For the sake of fine-tuning before the quarter-finals Australia need to be pushed. That, though, depends on which Pakistan turn up. They aren't really a side motivated by group positions with their progression safely assured. Still, Australia's bowlers know they'll need to be better than over the last week against a talented, if unpredictable, Pakistan batting line-up. The likes of Ponting, Cameron White and Steven Smith need some time in the middle, too.
Pakistan's bowling attack should provide a proper test even if Shoaib Akhtar doesn't play. Shahid Afridi is having a memorable tournament with the ball and there are plenty of other spin options that could trouble Australia. However, don't be surprised if their unbeaten World Cup record is extended for at least another week.
(completed matches, most recent first)
Watch out for...
Ricky Ponting is living up to the 'captain grumpy' tag at the moment following is angry display when he almost collided with Smith when taking a catch against Canada. He later admitted it didn't look good, but his mood was hardly improved when he pulled to square leg for 7 to continue a lean trot. His damaged little finger is clearly causing him problems, especially in the field, although Ponting will be desperate not to give an inch. However, it's been a long time since he made a telling contribution, and that pressure will start to tell at some point.
Umar Akmal is a tempestuous youngster who only knows one way to play: attack. He missed the last game with an ankle niggle but should be fit to take on Australia. His confrontation with the quicks will be worth viewing and he won't let the spinners settle. If Umar comes off he is fantastic to watch, but he's also equally likely to combust quickly. Either way, it won't be dull viewing.
Australia are likely to resist the temptation to give any of their squad players a came ahead of the knockout stage. John Hastings is the spare bowling option should they decide to rest a quick but he may have to wait on the sidelines.
Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 Brad Haddin (wk), 3 Ricky Ponting (capt), 4 Michael Clarke, 5 Cameron White, 6 Michael Hussey, 7 Steven Smith, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Jason Krejza, 11 Shaun Tait
Pakistan have a number of options and no one is quite sure which route they'll take. However, it seems likely that Ahmed Shehzad's poor form will cost him his place with Kamran Akmal being moved up to open alongside Mohammad Hafeez. Umar Akmal is fit again and then there's the decision between the steadiness of Wahab Riaz and the match-changing potential of Shoaib Akhtar.
Pakistan (possible) 1 Mohammad Hafeez, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Asad Shafiq, 4 Younis Khan, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Umar Akmal, 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Abdur Rehman, 11 Wahab Riaz
Pitch and conditions
The bowlers have enjoyed some success at Colombo so far and there was significant turn on offer before rain arrived during the Sri Lanka-Australia match. Rain has played its part in Sri Lanka, though, and there is a chance of showers impacting the match. Australia, especially, will hope for an uninterrupted contest.
Stats and trivia
- The last World Cup meeting between these two was early in the 2003 tournament when Australia won by 82 runs
- Cameron White needs three runs to reach 2000 in ODIs
- Australia took the bilateral series against Pakistan at home last year 5-0
"At this stage we're the only undefeated team in the tournament, which is nice for us, but I think we'll get a better feel tomorrow at the end of the game for just where we're at and how well we're placed in this World Cup."
Ricky Ponting on his side's form in the tournament
"We've made some plans against them and you will see tomorrow in the game we will do something new."
Shahid Afridi suggests there might be a few surprises from his side