About the Match
Australia clinched a thriller against Bangladesh as they successfully chased down 157 runs to win the match by a close 3 wickets and keep their hopes alive; they will face Pakistan, who suffered their second defeat of the tournament this time against the Kiwis, on 25th March at Mohali. Both teams have 2 points each and will fight for survival here; while Australia comes here at the back of a much-needed win, Pakistan has received a blow to its morale and will need to make a comeback here to remain in the hunt. It needs to be seen which team can keep a cool head above its shoulders to emerge victorious on Friday.
Chasing a competitive 157 runs on a tough pitch, the Aussie batsmen started off well as Usman Khawaja posted a brilliant 58 off 45 to build the foundation; Watson, Maxwell, Smith and Warner tried to keep the scoreboard ticking but fell at regular intervals, causing some worry towards the end. However, Faulkner held his nerves together and with support from the lower order, scored the winning runs with more than an over to spare.
Earlier, the bowlers put up a lacklustre performance but Adam Zampa came through for the team with a brilliant figure of 3-23; he picked up the player of the match award for his leg-break googlies. Watson picked up two wickets while Nathan Coulter-Nile managed to stifle the opponents. They have a strong pace attack with Faulkner, Mitchell Marsh and Hastings; Adam Zampa, Watson and Maxwell are the spinners in the squad and need to continue with their wicket-taking skills.
This is a crucial match for the team and although their previous outing exposed certain gaps, Australia will focus on the positives and try to maintain their strong record against Pakistan here.
A formidable target of 181 against New Zealand proved too much for the faltering batting line-up despite Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad’s brilliant opening stand of 65 by the 6th over. Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi, Shoaib Malik and Sarfraz Ahmed tried to revive the innings but they were way behind the required run-rate. The pressure was too much to handle by the lower middle order and they fell short by 22 runs; earlier, the bowlers gave away too many runs and although Sami and Afridi picked up 2 wickets each, they couldn’t contain the Kiwi batting line-up.
Against India, although the seamers picked up regular wickets, the spinners Shoaib Malik and Afridi found no success; they couldn’t defend a low total of 118 runs and they sorely missed a quality spinner. Pakistan will need to strategize well against the Aussies, who are known to comeback from any situation to turn the match in their favor.
If batting first, Pakistan needs to build strong partnerships throughout and must not entirely rely on the openers to do most of the job; with a good total to defend, the seamers will have more to fight with but they must put up a disciplined effort in order to outwit the Aussies on Friday.
Australia triumphed against Bangladesh in a close-contest after suffering some hiccups during the chase; however, they have good resources to make a comeback here. Pakistan on the other hand has suffered two consecutive defeats and will need a win here to survive. The match could well go down to the wire but we feel Australia has a better depth in the batting and mix of pace and spin in the bowling to win the contest.