World T20: Aus-Pak game will have Indians on the edge

  • Ashutosh Sharma, Hindustan Times, Mohali
  • Updated: Mar 25, 2016 12:56 IST
Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi with coach Waqar Younis during a training session. (PTI Photo)

Players of both the teams, Australia and Pakistan, were huddled in their hotel rooms watching the Wednesday night match between India and Bangladesh. And when Australia play Pakistan at the PCA Stadium on Friday, it will be hosts India’s turn, who arrived here on Thursday, to keep an eye on the proceedings.

After all, the ICC World Twenty20 Cup campaign of all three teams also hinges on the results of other games going their way. The group is so close to call that Pakistan, despite losing two matches, are still in with a contention of making it to the last four.

Despite all the negative reports of groupism and infighting coming from their camp, Pakistan still have the second best net run-rate among the three teams vying for the second place. If Australia defeat Pakistan it will mean end of the campaign for Shahid Afridi’s men, but if all three end up with two wins then NRR will come into play. Australia then face India in a virtual quarterfinal for a spot in the semifinal.

Challenge for both

Australia and Pakistan have both looked less than convincing. Despite boasting of big hitters like Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, David Warner and Glenn Maxwell in their line-up, Australia have struggled to chase even below par totals. In Dharamsala, against New Zealand they fell short by eight runs, while against Bangladesh, the Aussies scraped to a three-wicket win.

Aware of the scenario and his team’s shortcomings, skipper Steve Smith said that there is little his team could do other than play better cricket. “We are facing two high quality teams (Pakistan and India) in the next couple of days and we need to defeat them both in order to qualify and that is our focus,” he said.

But Smith knows that it’s easier said than done. The only saving grace for Australia has been the performance of Khawaja. With scores of 38 and 58, the left-handed opener has looked comfortable in the middle, while rookie spinner Adam Zampa, who bowled just one over in the loss to New Zealand, redeemed himself with a three for 23 against Bangladesh.

“I am very proud of the way Adam Zampa has bowled for us. Hopefully, we can see more of that. We will just wait and see what the wicket has to offer,” Smith said.

On the other hand Pakistan looked gutted after their loss to New Zealand, leaving coach Waqar Younis fuming and terming his team not deserving of a place in the last four.

also read

46 million! That’s the number of cricket fans on Facebook during WT20
Show comments