Written by Vinay Siwach | | November 29, 2015 3:48:42 pm
Umar Akmal, in the match against Ireland, was a symbol of how Pakistan’s World Cup campaign has fared so far with his innings. At first it looked like he would not allow Sarfraz Ahmed to complete a well deserved hundred. Later, he started blocking everything so that Srafraz could get his hundred.
Similarly, Pakistan, in their first two matches, appeared to be a team which did not know what they were doing. Gradually, they showed character and defeated South Africa and Ireland to reach quarters. Sarfraz was not part of their plans in the initial phase. Now, he is the hero for them. It will be a cliché to tag them predictably unpredictable but Pakistan, in all manners, fit in to this description.
More than five years ago they faced Australia in an ODI in Adelaide. And here they are again, in World Cup quarter-finals, up against the home team.
Australia and Pakistan have a rich cricketing history. The two teams have always had the best pace attacks. In Adelaide, it will be about the pace only. If team selection is not shuffled a great deal, one could see as many as six left-arm seamers in both teams.
Wahab Riaz has been sensational for Pakistan. You can call him the leader of the pace-attack. Australia went into the tournament with Mitchell Johnson as their strike bowler but it has been the other Mitch who has got them here. Mitchell Starc has bowled toe-crushing yorkers, ripping bouncers and has kept batsmen under check.
Pakistan have oscillated. They were nowhere close to India and West Indies in their first two matches. Then, a nervy win against Zimbabwe gave them the change and the win against South Africa changed everything. Probably, that win against the Proteas is what they wanted. It got them charged up. Enough to make them a side which can repeat the heroics of 1992. Enough to make them a side which can still win the World Cup.
Australia know this. Michael Clarke said that Pakistan is an underrated team especially in the shorter format of the game. “I think Pakistan have been underrated for a long time, especially in the shorter form of the game. I think they’ve got a lot of talent.”
Clarke and Co. need to play at top of their game on Friday, as they have done all throughout the tournament. Apart from the New Zealand game, Australia didn’t let their opponents get even close to defeating them. With Irfan missing out, Pakistan will find it much more difficult.
Batting will not be a contest on Friday. It will be a test of Pakistan’s bowling and how the fancied Australian line-up deals with it. The match can well be decided there only.
No one cares about the league games, it is the knockouts that matter and if Pakistan repeat their success of knockout from 1992, losing matches in group stages won’t matter, ever.
But there is an if, a big if. Australia, looking for a semis berth after eight years, will hold the upper hand to end Pakistan’s run this time around and can turn the if into a certainty.