At a crucial juncture in their knockout qualification hopes, Australia and Pakistan clash in match #17 of the ICC World Cup. This fixture will be played in Taunton on Wednesday. There is very little to separate Australia (four points) and Pakistan (three) ahead of this match.
Australia came second best to India. Adding to that, the injury to all-rounder Marcus Stoinis questions the team balance. Pakistan will feel that the abandoned match against Sri Lanka was lost points. Interestingly, rain remains a threat for this fixture.
The defending Champions started their tournament brightly. As the game against India showed, there are a lot of glaring problems. David Warner’s slow starts aren’t helping the side. Same is the case with the poor returns of Aaron Finch.
Thankfully, Steve Smith has been brilliant so far. Bowling wise, Mitchell Starc and Adam Zampa have been impressive. However, Pat Cummins is yet to get consistent. Nathan Coulter-Nile’s bowling is also off the mark.
After a rugged start against West Indies, Pakistan bounced back to topple England. Batting and bowling clicked at the same time. While the fielding still has a lot of scope for improvement, Pakistan remain a dangerous side.
Pakistan will hope to remain positive, as arch rivals India are their next opponent. Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Amir have started to find their rhythm. With the bat too, Pakistan are improving.
Fantasy Players to Watch
Steve Smith has been extremely consistent for Australia. His ability to score fifties will once again be needed for the Kangaroos.
Mohammad Hafeez is a key all-rounder for Pakistan. His part-time off-spinners could be useful against spin-weary Aussies.
Glenn Maxwell was in his elements against India, before the scoreboard pressure caught up. Another blitz from the all-rounder could be a fantasy boost!
Australia could look to strengthen their bowling.
Australia: 1 Aaron Finch (C) 2 David Warner 3 Usman Khawaja 4 Steve Smith 5 Glenn Maxwell 6 Alex Carey (WK) 7 Pat Cummins 8 Mitchell Starc 9 Nathan Coulter-Nile 10 Adam Zampa 11 Jason Behrendorff
Shaheen Afridi could get a game for Pakistan.
Pakistan: 1 Imam-ul-Haq 2 Fakhar Zaman 3 Babar Azam 4 Mohammad Hafeez 5 Sarfaraz Ahmed (C & WK) 6 Shoaib Malik 7 Asif Ali 8 Wahab Riaz 9 Shadab Khan 10 Mohammad Amir 11 Shaheen Afridi
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