Fri, Mar 18, 3:56pm by Kevin Pitstock
Australia’s World Cup Campaign:
Pakistan’s World Cup Campaign:
It always seemed Ricky Ponting would never grow old. Considered one of the great batsmen of the past decade, most thought he would retire at the top of his game, much like Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath before him. But it’s very clear Ponting, now 36, is nowhere near the player he once was. In Australia’s five matches at the World Cup so far, the skipper has made just 83 runs at an average of 20.75 per innings. He normally averages 42.46 in ODI’s. Ponting hasn’t made a century for Australia in any format since February 2010. His unnecessary showing of public frustration against Canada on Wednesday was proof nothing is going right for him from an individual standpoint at the moment. However the best way for Ponting to get back into a positive mindset is with a big innings against a quality opposition such as Pakistan. It would not only benefit him, but his teammates as well.
Cricket will lose one of the most charismatic figures in the game after Shoaib Akhtar announced he will retire at the end of Pakistan’s World Cup campaign. The 35-year-old admitted his body had been increasingly unable to cope with the pressures of international cricket at his retirement press conference on Wednesday. Once considered the fastest bowler in the game, Shoaib has lost 10 to 15 kilometres of pace as his career progressed. Injuries and off-field issues shortened a potentially brilliant career. He played in 46 of a possible 84 Tests and 163 ODI’s in over 13 years. Shoaib hasn’t had a great tournament to date yet. But with his teammates behind him and perhaps some extra energy knowing he’ll be bowling to the Aussies, the paceman could be crucial to Pakistan’s chances.
Scattered thunderstorms – maximum temperature of 29 degrees.
Likely Australian Team:
Likely Pakistan Team:
Pakistan has lived up to its reputation as the enigma of the tournament. A brilliant victory against Sri Lanka in its second game has been overshadowed by disappointing performances against New Zealand and Canada.
Perhaps the reasoning behind those substandard matches was because of Shahid Afridi’s minimal impact. The skipper took 14 wickets in the first three games but wasn’t able to continue that form against the Kiwis and the Canadians, with only one wicket each match. Afridi has yet to influence a game with the bat too, scoring just 63 runs from his five innings.
The scary thing for Pakistan though is that Australia has performed below par in the World Cup to date, despite the fact the Aussies have yet to lose a game. Besides Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Brett Lee, a lot of the team hasn’t top form and those players will be keen for a big game with the finals beginning midway through next week.
Two players who definitely need to lift their respective games are Jason Krejza and Steve Smith. The two spinners have taken just five wickets between them this tournament and haven’t been able to make the most of the dusty, spin-friendly pitches. Of the 38 wickets Australia has taken so far, only six have been from spin. Ponting recently put the onus on both of them to perform, especially with the Colombo pitch expected to take a little extra turn.
However Australia’s overall record at World Cup’s over the past decade is unprecedented. Interestingly, the last time the Aussies lost a World Cup game was against the Pakistani’s in the group stage of the 1999 tournament.
If Ponting can establish himself at the crease and his pace bowlers can avoid leaking runs against Pakistan’s experienced middle order, the Aussies should head into the quarter-finals in top spot and with plenty of momentum.
Best Head-To-Head Bet:
Australia ($1.57 – Sportingbet)
Other Suggested Bets:
Australia High Bat – Ricky Ponting ($5.50 – Sportingbet)
Man Of The Match – Ricky Ponting ($7.50 – Sportingbet)
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