At this stage is there even a point to writing these when you know there is a cloud hanging over, figuratively and literally both. What good is all the hype and pre-match chatter when the action doesn’t happen. Never before has a climate calamity loomed so large on a World Cup and caused such mayhem.
Three matches have already been washed out, and the tournament is not even halfway through. This warrants a sarcastic salute to the geniuses who did not think of reserve days.
Fortunately, chances of rain have reportedly been lowered from an initially reported 70 per cent to just 20. If, and it’s a big if, the game goes through, two teams desperate for a win would square off at Taunton today.
For Pakistan, in some ways, Australia are as formidable and similar an opponent as England were. What the Aussies lack in form and current strength, they more than make up for in winning pedigree and dogged mentality. Keep in mind that the Aussies have won almost half of all the World Cups ever played.
Like the English, the Aussies also boast a whitewash over Pakistan this year. At 5-0, theirs was actually even better numerically.
However, like the English, the Aussies must also be fully aware that form and numbers or any logical conclusions are no barometer to gauge what’s going to come next.
On paper, the Aussies are the favourites but their edge is not as sizable and can quickly be erased by a Pakistan side coming off of a high.
Both sides have traditionally boasted world class bowling units although their current units are a bit light. The Aussies do have Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins but the rest can be taken to task. Sarfaraz Ahmed and co can consider taking a leaf out of India’s book, seeing off the Starc-Cummins opening spell safely before upping the ante against the minions.
Pakistan, too, are not as loaded in the bowling department as they once used to be but good news for them is that their pace spearhead of Mohammad Amir and Wahab Riaz have impressed. Both have eight wickets between themselves in two outings. Young legspinner Shadab Khan has not been a slouch either, taking two wickets in the only game he got to bowl in.
Key for Pakistan would be the form of Hasan Ali, who has conceded an eye-watering 105 runs in his combined 14 overs across two World Cup matches. Oh and he hasn’t taken any wickets yet. To make matters worse, Aussie opener David Warner has a particular liking for him.
One way to solve this problem would be to bench Ali and start Imad Wasim. If anything, Aussies can be troubled by a bit of spin. And although not a big spinner, Wasim is dead accurate and doesn’t need an invitation if the batter misses. On a second thought though, how do you leave out a pacer when there is a chance rain could be a factor.
Everyone knows about the 5-0 drubbing in the UAE. What not everyone know is the fact that Pakistan have a near even record against Australia at World Cups.
At 5-4, the Aussies only have one more win over Pakistan, which is surprising since the former have won four more World Cups than the latter.
Not just that, neither side has allowed the other to build up more than a one-win lead. It means that if one is ahead, the other always equalises. Australia won their last World Cup meeting, which was in 2015. That was when Wahab Riaz bowled THAT spell to Shane Watson.
A side strain has ruled out Marcus Stoinis from this game, and possibly even the entire tournament. The Aussies have recalled Mitchell Marsh but whether he officially joins the squad or not depends on the seriousness of Stoinis’ injury. Either way, neither will be involved in this game. The other Marsh brother, Shaun, looks likely to get the nod.
Pakistan have a clean bill of health.
After their respective last games, Pakistan have their tail up and Australia have their tail between their legs. That, and the trend identified above means it’s Pakistan’s turn to even things up.
We may be clutching at straws here but in our defence there is little to choose between Australia’s characteristic consistency and Pakistan’s trademark unpredictability.