Australia v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, St Lucia May 13, 2010

Clarke wary of Pakistan threat


Michael Clarke knows Australia's dominance at the World Twenty20 will count for nothing if they don't continue that form in the knockout stages starting with a semi-final against Pakistan.

Australia have been the standout team at this year's tournament, maintaining an unbeaten record with their aggressive brand of cricket built around a fearsome pace attack. Despite twice having serious batting slumps - against Bangladesh they were 65 for 6 and against Sri Lanka slipped to 67 for 5 - they have found a clutch of matchwinners throughout the line up. The semi-final berth was secured with a powerful six-wicket victory against West Indies where legspinner Steven Smith claimed 3 for 20.

On paper the semi-final shouldn't be a contest; the ultra professionalism and depth of Australia against the mercurial talents of Pakistan that have only come together once, against South Africa, at this tournament and they lost heavily in the group match between the two. However, with Twenty20 narrowing the margins of error, and Pakistan's ability to rise in must-win matches, they remain a serious threat and Clarke is well aware of the challenge they pose.

"Pakistan are a very strong team in any form of the game but especially T20 and they've shown that to make the semi finals once again," he said. "We take momentum from every win we've had but they'll come out with a lot to prove on a wicket that will probably suit them a little more than Barbados.

"It's important we look at what's in front of us and not too far ahead. Pakistan have a lot of matchwinners. We need to really focus on the opposition and we go from there. We are thrilled to be in the semi-finals but we didn't come here to make the semi-finals."

Prior to this tournament Australia hadn't managed to replicate their dominance of Test and one-day cricket on the Twenty20 arena. They reached the semi-final of the inaugural event in South Africa before losing to India, but also suffered an embarrassing loss against Zimbabwe which led Ricky Ponting to admit they hadn't taken the game seriously enough. In England last year they crashed out in the first round after heavy defeats to West Indies and Sri Lanka leaving the hierarchy aware that something had to be done.

"No doubt it has motivated every player, not just in this tournament but through the last 12 months," Clarke, who replaced Ponting as Twenty20 captain, said. "We've certainly improved and have worked very hard to get into this position. But what we've done now is irrelevant, we need to beat Pakistan."

The key part to Australia's success has been their pace attack of Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson which has proved too strong for the opposition especially on the quick pitches in Barbados.

Elsewhere David Hussey, David Warner and Cameron White have shown their striking power while Mike Hussey has proved a revelation coming in at No. 7. Clarke has had the least impact of the players selected in the final XI, but while the runs haven't flowed he has begun moulding Australia's most powerful unit in this format.

"We are all learning the more opportunities we get," he said. "But as I've said from the start I think this is a wonderful squad. We've got guys who haven't had the chance in the middle but they still turn up and train every day and work their backsides off. Then there's the XI on the field that bust their backsides not only for themselves but also for the support staff, the supporters from Australia and the people at home who have doubted us in this format.

"Everyone has performed well in at least one of the games. Our fielding has been outstanding and is a huge part of Australian cricket in any form of the game, that's probably the most satisfying for me."

When Clarke spoke the identity of the first finalists was still unclear, but that is now confirmed as England. It throws up the prospect of an intriguing pre-Ashes encounter and, after some reluctance, the Australian captain said what most people wanted him to.

"I'd look forward to that. If we beat Pakistan and meet England in the final I think it would be a good start to what will be a very good and interesting summer back in Australia with the Ashes. But for me right now I've got both eyes on Pakistan."

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Arisha on May 14, 2010, 16:00 GMT

    That is what turns me off when it comes to ENDLAND/ASUTRALIA possibel encounter......always about the Ashes.

  • Vijay on May 14, 2010, 14:15 GMT

    I do not know about Pakistan but Mr.Clarke please be wary of your position in the team. How does he fit into the T20 team, with a strike rate of 70 and has not scored more than 25 in a single match. Very soon clarke will be out, the best replacement will be Mike Hussey and they should draft Shaun Marsh intot he team.....

  • Dummy4 on May 14, 2010, 14:08 GMT

    Pakistan may look quite weak on paper when comparing them with Australia...but its a game of cricket and that too wait for the final scoreline and who knows that most cricket pundits are surprised by an outstanding performance by Pakistan...Miracles do happen....:-) especially with the pakistani nation...

  • Shahzan on May 14, 2010, 13:43 GMT

    I do agree with Mr. Clarke. Pakistan should never be under-estimated as they have are habitual of doing miracles since ages. They react surprisingly when they are challenged and faced to the wall. They are most incredible team in the world as far as their performance is concerned. In a match they will easily lose to a weaker team but in the next they throw down mighty warriors. They are the most dangerous team as you can never plan against them. They are the iconoclast!!!!

  • Dummy4 on May 14, 2010, 13:34 GMT

    It only takes one brilliant performance in T20 to win a match. I think Pakistan's chances to beat Australia are best in T20 format as compared to 50 over or Test Cricket

  • Dummy4 on May 14, 2010, 13:06 GMT

    I think Pakistan just need to be at the top of their game. They have got match winners both in bowling and batting. They just need to field well, take all the possible catches and it could easily be a repeat of SA vs Pak match. They won that match fair and square, outperforming one of the most consistent teams in T20. The match with NZ was also well balanced and they lost in a good contest so they didnt just qualify to semi finals on the basis on OTHER" team's RESULTS. The point is that i as a pakistani, wants to see a good cricket match where both teams perform to their best and let the better team win. For that, pakistan needs to show ultra professionalism because this is something where aussies dont lack.

  • Sekar on May 14, 2010, 12:38 GMT

    England v Australia final would be truly great. Although Australia look invincible, England have shown their best form for quite some time now. An England win in such an encounter is a distinct possiblility. All this is of course presuming Australia will beat Pakistan. Pakistan is playing like they did in 1992 World cup. They came from virtually nowhere to win the finals, where they beat England. Pakistan is the most unpredictable, yet the most dangerous team on their day. Two good days for them and they will retain the 20-20 cup and leave something for the Asians to cherish. Australian win would not be a surprise. But either England or Pakistan win is truly good for the game.

  • nasir on May 14, 2010, 12:37 GMT

    PAK will beat Aus and Eng. This trophy is going back to ASIA.:)

  • Asad on May 14, 2010, 12:32 GMT

    Folks, every Pakistani should accept that Australia is stepping in as favorites in this semi-final. But does this mean that we should neglect the situation Pakistan team was in last years T-20 world cup semi-final? Werent Proteas favorite back then? It is a fact that that whichever teams perform well on the day, wins. Specially in 20-20 format. So, behold Aussies and underestimate not the potential and exceptional talent of Pakistani players. May the best win !!

  • Dummy4 on May 14, 2010, 12:31 GMT

    With pakistan's ability to win the crucial matches.....i think the game should be 50:50 in ratio for both the teams

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