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Batting first is the only hope against Australia

The Australia-Pakistan semifinal promises to be a cracker of a game if the right Pakistan team turns up. Their win in the final super-eight game against South Africa was one where they were at their most energetic and enthusiastic.

india Updated: May 14, 2010 00:30 IST

The Australia-Pakistan semifinal promises to be a cracker of a game if the right Pakistan team turns up. Their win in the final super-eight game against South Africa was one where they were at their most energetic and enthusiastic.

In earlier games they seemed listless and uninterested, but as the realisation that as the defending champs, they could be out of the tournament before the semis, dawned, they rallied splendidly and beat a team that once again came a cropper in a must-win game. The Pakistanis still need to get their act together as far as the batting is concerned. Their opening pair has been inconsistent and, apart from young Umar Akmal, the lineup lacks class. Shahid Afridi has still not hit his straps and looks restrained with the responsibility of the captaincy and Misbah Ul Haq needs to convince the doubters that he is not a one-tournament wonder.

The bowling, with its emphasis on spin, is coming on beautifully, with Afridi putting in some economical spells and Saeed Ajmal proving a tough customer. Abdul Rehman looks a good prospect. It is the new ball that is the worry for Pakistan and that, along with their fielding, could well be their weak links.

The Australians are the only unbeaten team so far and they look unbeatable. They have so many options and so much flexibility, be it in batting or bowling, that skipper Michael Clarke is actually spoilt for choice. Also, their fielding is such that the opposition only takes easy singles. Anything tight and they prefer the safety of their crease. Their catching also means that if the ball is in the air and within the boundary then the batsman may as well head for the dressing room.

But so far in the tournament, they have not been put under any pressure. If that happens, how they will react is not yet known. In a knockout situation the knowledge that there is no next game if they lose can add to the pressure and that is what Pakistan must try and do. Batting first is the only way against the Australians. So bat first put up about 150 and if they lose early wickets then they too could panic.