Preview – Confident Australia strong favorites against out of form Pakistan
Australia and Pakistan met in March this year for a 5-match ODI series in the UAE which the former went on to win comfortably by a thumping 5-0 margin. It was a shocking result as Pakistan was expected to well on conditions which were very much like home for them. However, Aaron Finch’s team played with great zeal and confidence and thumped Pakistan mercilessly.
When the two sides meet for their ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at Taunton, defending champions, Australia would hence begin as firm favorites for the game even more so because Pakistan has been beaten 0-4 by England in an ODI series in May.
Australia, on the other hand, is looking in good shape after the return of Steve Smith and David Warner to their fold. The two have been Australia’s best batsmen for a while and would strengthen the team’s batting considerably which already has the likes of Aaron Finch, Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell and Marcus Stoinis.
What sets Australia apart is their bowling strength. Fast bowler Pat Cummins has been in sensational form this year and has picked up 17 wickets in only 6 ODIs. Leg-spinner Adam Zampa (18 wickets in 10 ODIs in 2019) too would be another one to watch out for with his guile and variations. The return of Mitchell Starc from injury to adds teeth to their bowling armory. The left-handed pacer has 21 wickets against Pakistan in just 9 ODIs and would be eager to continue his dominance.Embed from Getty Images
Pakistan’s batsmen have been doing well of late, and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed would hope they can do some damage against Australia. Opener Imam-ul-Haq has been in a terrific form and was the leading run-getter for the team in the series against England. Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail can be the other ones who can make valuable contributions.
Surprisingly, Pakistan’s bowling has come a copper of late. Their bowling unit has been leaking plenty of runs and has been unable to pick regular wickets. Barring 19-year-old pace sensation Shaheen Shah Afridi and spinner Imad Wasim, the others have been mostly ineffective and would need to pull up their socks against a strong Australian batting. Perhaps Wahab Riaz or Mohammad Amir can create some magic.
Pitch conditions and Australia vs Pakistan Prediction:
Taunton has always been a high-scoring venue and with the pitches in England having become largely batting friendly in recent times, expect a high-scoring game between Australia and Pakistan. The highest score on this venue is 373-6 by India against Sri Lanka in the 1999 World Cup. The team batting first should score more than 310 in this match.
Batsmen from both sides should have a good time in this game. But given Pakistan’s recent form in ODIs and against Australia in particular and Australia’s sound bowling strength, it is likely that the defending champions will emerge victorious in this clash.