Australia v Pakistan, World T20, Group 2, Mirpur March 22, 2014

Spin test for Australia's batsmen

Play 01:17
Crowe: Conditions not to Australia's liking

Match facts

March 23, 2014, Mirpur
Start time 1530 (0930GMT)

Big Picture

This is where it all begins for Australia, the push for that elusive World T20 title. George Bailey's men enter this tournament with five wins from their past five games but those were all in vastly different conditions in Australia and South Africa. The slower pitches in Bangladesh will provide a new challenge, although the massive opening stand of 113 from eight overs between David Warner and Aaron Finch in the practice match against New Zealand in Fatullah was encouraging.

Pakistan's campaign started with a defeat at the hands of India on Friday and while one loss might not hurt their overall chances too much, two from two would make it difficult to fight back into the tournament. It was a lacklustre batting display that set Pakistan on the road to defeat and that is where they require a big improvement in this contest. If any team in world cricket is capable of following a shambles with a success two days later, it is Pakistan.

These teams have not met in a T20 since the group stage of the 2012 World T20 in Sri Lanka, when Pakistan cruised to victory thanks to their spinners. And that is the big danger for Australia once again. For all of the power in their batting line-up, most of their biggest hitters are happier when the ball comes on at pace than when dealing with tweakers with tough variations. And with India and West Indies also in this group, this match will be a pointer to how Australia might handle similar spin challenges later in the tournament.

Form guide

(completed matches, most recent first)

Australia WWWWW
Pakistan LLWWW

Watch out for

David Warner's recent form across all formats is as imposing as any batsman in this tournament. In the ODIs against England in January he made 65, 18 and 71, then followed that in the South Africa Tests with 12, 115, 70, 66, 135 and 145. Then there was the small matter of 40 from 16 balls in the rain-shortened T20 in Durban. And to cap it off, his only warm-up in Bangladesh brought 65 from 26 deliveries against New Zealand. This is a man who is striking the ball as well, and as consistently, as he ever has. He just needs to make sure Saeed Ajmal and co do not get on top of him.

In 10 T20s against Australia, Saeed Ajmal has collected 18 wickets at 13.22 and has gone for five an over or less every time he has met them in Asia. In turning conditions Ajmal ties the Australians down; they cannot get him away and the pressure builds wickets. His doosra especially will cause some headaches for batsmen who have spent the summer dealing with more conventional spin.

Team news

Australia allrounder James Faulkner will miss the game, as he is yet to recover from a knee injury. It could mean that Daniel Christian retains the bowling allrounder spot.

Australia (possible) 1 Aaron Finch, 2 David Warner, 3 Shane Watson, 4 Glenn Maxwell, 5 George Bailey (capt), 6 Brad Hodge, 7 Brad Haddin (wk), 8 Daniel Christian, 9 Mitchell Starc, 10 Nathan Coulter-Nile, 11 Brad Hogg

It was Pakistan's batting that let the side down in their loss to India and the only backup batsman in the squad is Sharjeel Khan. However, given that spin is likely to be their trump card against Australia, they may play two seamers rather than three and bring in the left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar.

Pakistan (possible) 1 Kamran Akmal (wk), 2 Ahmed Shehzad, 3 Mohammad Hafeez (capt), 4 Umar Akmal, 5 Shoaib Malik, 6 Shahid Afridi, 7 Sohaib Maqsood, 8 Bilawal Bhatti/Zulfiqar Babar, 9 Umar Gul, 10 Saeed Ajmal, 11 Junaid Khan

Pitch and conditions

Spin played a key role in the first game at this venue, the Bangladesh victory over Afghanistan, and again in Friday's India-Pakistan match. Again the slow bowlers should have plenty to work with. However, the teams will have to keep an eye towards the skies; it rained in Dhaka on Saturday and more wet spells are forecast for Sunday afternoon.

Stats and Trivia

  • Australia and Pakistan have met in 11 T20s - Pakistan have won six, Australia four and there has been one tie, which Pakistan won in a Super Over

  • The Pakistan side features the three top wicket takers in T20 internationals: Saeed Ajmal (82), Umar Gul (75) and Shahid Afridi (73)


    "These conditions - the ball turning - that is more suited to us against Australia and the other teams." Pakistan's captain Mohammad Hafeez after the loss to India

    Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

  • Comments