Group 2 of ICC Twenty20 World Cup is nearing its climax as three teams are jostling to join New Zealand in the semi-finals. Two of those will go into a direct contest when Pakistan clashes with Australia at the Mohali Stadium on Friday, March 25.
This will be the last league match for Pakistan who have just one win against Bangladesh to show for their two points. A victory against Australia will not guarantee a semis spot but a loss would definitely mean goodbye! Australia will have a match against India following this match, which could potentially turn out to be a sudden-death clash.
Pakistan’s hopes are hanging by the proverbial thread. Except for the game against Bangladesh, the unpredictable Pakistanis were consistently below-par and easily overwhelmed. The meek batting display is selling them short while the bowling hasn’t been able to click together as a unit. And the less said about their fielding, the better!
But one thing in their favour is their net run-rate which is still handsome and substantial. If they can pull off a win against the Aussies, they will still be in the race although they would require other results to go their way. And this would depend on which Pakistan takes the field on Friday – the fickle one or the world-beating one.
Australia on the other hand has a relatively simple path to progress. Two victories, or one win with a huge margin, would pull them through. But that shouldn’t mask the deficiencies of this side – as was evident from the hard work made out of chasing 156 against Bangladesh.
Aaron Finch continues to be left outside the starting XI but the performance of Usman Khawaja is holding them together at the top of the order. The struggles of David Warner and Steve Smith has meant that runs are coming at a premium for the pre-tournament favourites.
The performance of Shane Watson with the ball is heart-warming and the Aussies would hope for an encore. Expect him to carry the burden with the ball while Khawaja continues to be the mainstay with the bat with odds of $3.50 at Sportsbet to again be Australia’s leading run scorer. For Pakistan, Sharjeel Khan could end up being the top batsman at odds of $4.50 at Sportsbet.
Matches involving Pakistan are always tricky as it depends a lot on which Pakistan turns up. Australia start as favourites at odds of $1.50 at Sportsbet but that price seems short. Don’t discount Pakistan completely as they are capable of anything. Another interesting contest, to say the least!
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