ICC World Twenty20: Australia vs Pakistan, Match 26 - Preview
A loss could finally mark the end of Afridi's long international career.
Mohali: Their path to the semifinals looking relatively easier in comparison, Australia will fancy their chances when they lock horns with a struggling Pakistan side whose hopes hangs by a thread in the ICC World Twenty20, here on Friday.
Pakistan have struggled so far in the tournament but Australia are in no mood to take them lightly in a must-win match for both teams at the I S Bindra Stadium.
With two losses from three games, Pakistan's chances of progressing in the tournament are slim. Even their coach Waqar Younis thinks the team doesn't deserve to qualify for the semifinals with the way it has played.
Australia, on the other hand, have their own issues to sort out after the loss to New Zealand and a not so convincing win against Bangladesh. A win for Australia tomorrow will certainly end Pakistan's sorry campaign in the tournament and make their final league match against hosts India a virtual quarterfinal with New Zealand already qualifying from the group.
Australia wicketkeeper Peter Nevill has already said that his team can't afford to take it easy against a dangerous Pakistan.
The men from Down Under themselves have been far from clinical in their earlier matches. The batsmen made a mess of a modest chase against New Zealand before making heavy weather of the chase against Bangladesh on way to a three-wicket win.
The team management took a big call to open with the in-form Usman Khawaja and Shane Watson in the two games, pushing the dangerous David Warner to number four. While Khawaja has done justice at the top, Warner did not have the best of time down the order and was out cheaply on both the occasions.
Amongst the positives Australia will take into the game will be the performance of Khawaja and rookie leggie Adam Zampa, who picked up a three-wicket haul against Bangladesh.
For Pakistan, there is a lot more to worry. Coach Younis severely criticising the batsmen for not stepping up to the occasion and PCB announcing that captain Shahid Afridi will be removed post World T20 while the tournament is going on has made matters worse for the struggling unit.
A loss tomorrow could also finally mark the end of Afridi's long international career, as hinted by the all-rounder himself after the loss against New Zealand here.
The skipper has done alright with both bat and ball but it is the batsmen who have let the team down. Umar Akmal has disappointed again while the other regular names have not been consistent enough.
The side failed to cash in on a crisp start made by Sharjeel Khan and Ahmed Shehzad against New Zealand, eventually falling short of the 181-run target by 22 runs.
Even the highly rated fast bowling attack had an off day against New Zealand with the exception of veteran pacer Mohammad Shami, who has impressed on his comeback.
While Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Irfan leaked more than 10 runs an over against the Kiwis, Sami returned with impressive figures of two for 23 in four overs. He had bowled his heart out against India as well though he ended up on the losing side.
Pakistan: Anwar Ali, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Malik, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Amir, Imad Wasim, Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Nawaz, Sarfraz Ahmed, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Sami, Sharjeel Khan, Khalid Latif, Ahmed Shehzad
Australia: Steven Smith (captain), Ashton Agar, James Faulkner, John Hastings, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Andrew Tye, Adam Zampa, Shane Watson, Peter Nevill, Mitchell Marsh, Josh Hazlewood, Aaron Finch, Nathan Coulter-Nile, David Warner.