Australia v Pakistan, Group A, World Twenty20, St Lucia

Defending champions back up in key tie

Peter English

May 1, 2010

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Match Facts

Sunday, May 2, St Lucia
Start time 1330 (1730 GMT)


Shahid Afridi goes aerial in the end overs, Australia v Pakistan, 3rd ODI, Adelaide, January 26, 2010
Shahid Afridi is a severe threat with bat and ball © Getty Images
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The Big Picture

The defending champions play one of the first-round losers from 2009 in a match that will be crucial to the group. Pakistan started their tournament strongly with a 21-run win against Bangladesh on Saturday and are faced with the unusual situation of back-to-back games over the weekend.

Australia have had a leisurely start to the campaign, which has included some training, jet-skiing and a warm-up loss to Zimbabwe. In the past two Twenty20 tournaments they have been defeated in their opening games and the coaching staff has lectured them on the importance of beginning well.

Michael Clarke is in charge of his first major tournament and has a team dotted with Twenty20 specialists, although there is a feeling the outfit is still too traditional to reach the finals. David Warner, Cameron White, David Hussey, Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes provide some specialist limited-overs knowledge and will be relied on to gain or recapture momentum.

The slow St Lucia surface will have a big say on the result and there is an outside chance of up to eight spinners being employed. Pakistan should have the upper hand in both the quality of slow bowlers and their ability to play their opponents' options.

Dealing with a pace trio of Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes won't be quite as comfortable. Pakistan have recovered well since their practice loss to Zimbabwe and seem desperate to extend their global reign.

Form guide (most recent first)

Australia LWWWW
Pakistan WWLLW

Watch out for...

David Warner is a tiny man with massive power and a huge job at the top of Australia's order. Warner must give Australia a swift start to allow Michael Clarke, the No.3, to have a base from which he can feel comfortable chipping the ball around. Warner owns two of the fastest fifties in Twenty20 - one took 18 balls, the other 19 - but he will have to conquer the spinners to match those efforts in this event.

The last time Shahid Afridi played against Australia his stomach grumbled and he chomped at the ball. In this match the rumbling must come from his batting and bowling, which is well suited to the format. Over 28 games he has achieved a strike-rate of 144.04 with the bat and his average is 17.32 with the ball. Now he is captain and in charge of guiding the defending champions.

Team news

The big questions centre around the make-up of the spinners. Should Nathan Hauritz be the first choice despite no wickets in the lead-up games? Do they want the big-hitting of Steven Smith as well as his legspinners? And can they both fit into the side? Michael Clarke and David Hussey will chip in with overs as well. Ryan Harris, a late replacement for Brett Lee, will almost certainly be allowed some extra rest but the other 14 players in the squad are available.

Australia (probable) 1 Shane Watson, 2 David Warner, 3 Michael Clarke (capt), 4 David Hussey, 5 Cameron White, 6 Brad Haddin (wk), 7 Michael Hussey, 8 Steven Smith, 9 Mitchell Johnson, 10 Dirk Nannes, 11 Shaun Tait.

After their impressive opening Pakistan have no reason to change, unless they want another slow-bowling option. Abdul Razzaq was expensive in two overs, giving up 23 runs, and could make way if the team management is in a tinkering mood.

Pakistan (probable) 1 Salman Butt, 2 Kamran Akmal (wk), 3 Shahid Afridi (capt), 4 Abdul Razzaq, 5 Misbah-ul-Haq, 6 Mohammad Hafeez, 7 Umar Akmal, 8 Fawad Alam, 9 Mohammad Sami, 10 Mohammad Aamer, 11 Saeed Ajmal.

Pitch and conditions

It seems slow and low pitches will dominate the first week of the tournament at least. Hauritz was surprised by the lack of speed during the practice games in St Lucia. "It was slower than what we're used to," he said. "We're going to have to adapt to it very quickly." The Pakistanis also felt the conditions were difficult during their opening success. Scattered showers are tipped for Sunday along with a top temperature of 30C.

Stats and trivia

  • Pakistan have a relatively fresh squad but they still have more experience than Australia. Afridi's men have appeared in 188 T20 internationals to their rivals' 153
  • Kamran Akmal (29), Shahid Afridi (28) and Misbah-ul-Haq (24) have all played more than 20 matches, while Michael Clarke (24) is the only Australian to have managed that many
  • The teams met in the semi-final of the inaugural World Twenty20, with Pakistan winning by six wickets in Johannesburg. They have played three times overall, with Pakistan victorious twice

    Quotes

    "On these types of tracks he'd be very difficult for the opposition."
    Shahid Afridi wants Nathan Hauritz to play. But does he really think he'll be a threat or does he just want to face him?

    "They're not going to be bowling short. They're going to be bowling full and they're going to be going further. So we'll see what happens."
    David Warner is eying the straight boundaries in this tournament

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by The.Dark.Knight on (May 2, 2010, 20:57 GMT)

That was the semi-final... Really?

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