Match: Pakistan vs Australia, 22nd match of the ICC World Twenty20.
Venue: R Premadasa Cricket Stadium, Colombo, Sri Lanka
Date and Time: Tuesday, October 2, 2012. 13:00 PST / 10:00 GMT
Overall Rivalry: Leading; Pakistan 6 wins Australia 4 wins
Momentum in the last five matches: Dominance; Pakistan 4 wins, Australia 1 win
Weather Report: Partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and rain. High of 30 Celsius is expected. Winds will range from15 to 20 mph with a 20% chance of rain.
22 Yard Report: This is the 11th game that will be played at this ground since the tournament officially kicked off. There is only so much work that the curator can do on the surface. So far a good job has been done by keeping it dry and yet not letting it crack too much. Though, as the pitch starts resembling a fifth day Test square, it should aid the spinners more. Both teams comfortably chased down totals here on Sunday and it will be interesting to see if the toss-winning captain decides to bat first again. There are always chances of rain during this time of the year in Sri Lanka that might play a role in the drama that unfolds.
Game On: From the top of the world to a few feet under the ground, all it takes are a few bad overs and a couple of quick fall of wickets. The in-form Pakistani team went into their game against India as one of the favourites to win the tournament; they have come out of it with the possibility of now being knocked out.
Right from their last win against Pakistan in the UAE, Australia have looked in peerless form. Their top order has been exquisite but their batting has yet to be tested. Pakistan’s best chance to win will be if they are able to get through the top four Australian batsmen in relatively quick time. Pakistani spinners have held a slight psychological edge against the Aussies batsmen in recent times and will look to exploit it further.
Mohammad Hafeez was being touted as Pakistan’s next captain in all forms of the game after a successful series win versus Australia and a good start to the World T20 campaign. Things can take a u-turn very fast as they often do in Pakistan; the critics have been very fast to highlight Hafeez’s incapacity of handling pressure and hiding face from adversary. His slow start to the innings on Sunday set the tone for the rest of the evening and he did not appear with the ball until the 13th over, by the time the match was all but over.
Hafeez will have to turn up with an inspirational performance and lead from the front. If he manages to lead his team to the semi-finals, few will talk about his nervous 13 runs that took an agonising 25 balls against bitter rivals India.
Australia are already through to the next stage unless they lose this game by a huge margin and India beat South Africa in equally convincing fashion. In contrast, Pakistan’s road to the next round is a bit more complicated and depends on the result of both games played on Tuesday. The other game is between India and South Africa.
Scenario 1, Pakistan and South Africa win: Pakistan and Australia will go through by virtue of more points.
Scenario 2, Pakistan and India win: Whichever team wins with a bigger margin is likely to go through with a higher Net Run Rate (NRR).
Scenario 3, Australia and South Africa win: Pakistan, South Africa and India will be tied on points and it will boil down to who has a better NRR. At the moment Pakistan is marginally ahead, followed by India and South Africa.
Scenario 4, Australia and India win: Australia and India will go through by virtue of more points.
South Africa and India will have a defined target that they will have to achieve in order to go through to the next stage. If Pakistan lose, South Africa will know what margin they need to beat India by, in order to qualify and India will be aware of the losing leverage they have in order to go through. If Pakistan wins, India will again have a calculated target for qualification; the number of overs they need to chase a total or the runs they have to defend in order to qualify. Earlier this year, Virat Kohli led India to a stunning qualifying game in similar circumstances in the summer Down Under.
Game Changer: If this were a high profile football competition, both games on Tuesday would have probably been played at the same time in order to nullify any advantage to the team playing second. In this case South Africa and India will benefit by playing second. Pakistan might win and still not qualify or can lose and yet play the semi-finals. Either way, their fate will be decided in the game that they can only be bystanders in, while India and South Africa will have the luxury to fight it out with defined targets.
Pre-Game Talk: “I think we all knew exactly what conditions we were going to have. The conditions in Dubai were brilliant practice because what we had there was very similar to what we have here,” Shane Watson knows he is playing the same opposition in similar conditions he did last month.
“We need to rethink a few things, that’s for sure, and that will be done,” Dav Whatmore signals a possible change in strategy.
Last XI Fielded Australians: David Warner, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Cameron White, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Matthew Wade (wk), Brad Hogg, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Xavier Doherty
Last XI Fielded Pakistanis: Mohammad Hafeez, Imran Nazir, Nasir Jamshed, Kamran Akmal (wk), Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Shahid Afridi, Yasir Arafat, Raza Hasan, Umar Gul, Saeed Ajmal.
Possible Changes: Australia played with two specialist spinners in their previous game with excellent results. With the pitch getting older, they are likely to field the same team. Pakistan has not chopped and changed too much in the tournament but a lot of questions will be asked if they return home with Abdul Razak not having played a single game. In a team full of all-rounders, the veteran cricketer has found it difficult to get a spot for himself.
Final Words: Australians are seldom complacent and are expected to play the game as hard as they normally do. Pakistan will have to go into this match without worrying about the match to follow. In a high-pressure game with chances of elimination, Pakistan cannot depend on the likes of Umar Gul to wallop sixes and will need one of their impact batsmen to fire.