Pakistan vs Australia
Starting time: 2:30 pm IST
Colombo, March 19: Pakistan has had a wishy-washy time in the Group A so far, beating Sri Lanka, losing to New Zealand while crushing the minnows. But it will want to set the record straight about its potential when it takes on Australia at Colombo on Saturday, March 19.
This match will probably be the Pakistanis' biggest challenge of the Cup so far and they will be treating it as nothing less than an opportunity to end Australia's undefeated streak in the tournament. Beat Australia and leave a mark, is the opinion of Pak coach Waqar Younis.
But the task is a daunting one for Pakistan considering they have won only 2 games of the 11 they have played against Australia since the last World Cup. Pakistan has also lost the two series it has faced up to Australia in during that period and a one-off one-dayer in between.
In the April-May 2009 series between these two teams in the UAE which Australia won 3-2, Aussie Shane Watson came out the most prosperous run-scorer with an aggregate of 271 from 5 matches at a staggering average of 90.33 and an acceptable strike rate of 70.
Pakistan's top run-getter in that series - Kamran Akmal - was only third in the list, with an aggregate of 192 at an average of 48.00 and a strike rate of around 85. But the top wicket-taker was Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi who took 10 wickets form 5 matches at 17.40 runs conceded per scalp.
In the Jan 2010 engagement Down Under, which the Aussies swept 5-zip, the hosts' Cameron White and Michael Hussey led brothers Umar and Kamran Akmal in the run-tally's list, while again Shahid Afridi emerged as the top wicket-taker. Not suprisingly, Afridi has the higehst tally of wickets in the World Cup so far at 16 from 5 matches with an average a shade over 10.
But Pakistan's Achilles' heel is without a doubt, is their opening combination with Mohammad Haffez and Ahmed Shehzad having a poor time of it (though Hafeez seemed to strike some form with a 49 against Zimbabwe). The Pakistani middle-order looks more promising with Younis Khan (avg: 35.25), Misbah ul Haq (avg: 48.00) and Umar Akmal (avg: 41.75) all doing a fair job.
Their exploits are comparable to those of the Australian line-up. Michael Clarke who has also been one of the more successful batsmen against Pakistan in the recent past, is the highest run-scorer for his side in the tournament, followed by Shane Watson and Brad Haddin.
So no doubt, an exciting match is on the cards when Pakistan take on Australia on March 19th at Colombo. Can Pakistan bring a stop to the Aussie juggernaut or will the mighty Aussies continue to motor along...?