Pakistan was hit hard by player bans and injuries before the start of the World Cup and the trend seems to continue as they look to play Australia in the quarter-final. The burly Mohammad Irfan has been ruled out of the World Cup which comes as a big blow to Pakistan. They already lost the services of Umar Gul to injuries before the World Cup. Add to the bans on Ajmal and Hafeez, there is not much luck going for the Pakistani team. Irfan was the best bowler for the team in this tournament and now the onus lies on Wahab Riaz completely to take his team through to the semi-finals.
Batting has been a worry for Pakistan in the initial stages of the tournament but the inclusion of Sarfaraaz Ahmed at the top of the order has somewhat changed the team’s batting fortunes. Misbah has been consistent with the bat and will be one of the danger players that Australia need to watch out for. Pakistan is a dangerous side and has had the better of Australia with their spin bowling in the past. The senior players like Afridi, Younis Khan and Misbah will have to step up in the batting department to tackle the quality fast bowling from Australia.
There are too many positives for Australia at this stage to believe that they are the clear favorites in this match. The form of Mitchell Starc is a big plus especially against a brittle Pakistani batting lineup that is susceptible to pace bowling at times. Maxwell is filling the role of a part-time spinner well while there is good support from Mitchell Johnson who can win the match on his own on any given day. The return of James Faulkner after injury has also added to the depth of the team.
The only concern for Australia remains with the batting with the return of Michael Clarke in the team. He played well in the last game against UAE so that he gets some match practice. However, he is a weak link that Pakistan can exploit to get an advantage in the match. David Warner and Finch have been explosive at the start while Maxwell and Watson have run into some form at the right time. Australia has home advantage which is a big factor in knockout games. There is no doubt Australia will be the team to beat from this point onwards.
Australia – 1.25 @ William Hill