Nottingham: Australia will be aiming to get straight back to winning ways following their defeat to India as they take on a confident Pakistan at the County Ground in Taunton on Wednesday. If the Aussies need some mental strength after the defeat to Virat Kohli’s men, they need only look to their recent 5-0 series whitewash of Pakistan in the UAE.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s impressive win over England will give them the self-assurance required to tackle the Aaron Finch’s side.
When Australia skipper Finch was asked whether that series win in the UAE could be a confidence booster, he admitted that Pakistan are always a very dangerous side. He pointed out that they have been consistently winning games in ICC tournaments, and also get themselves in a position to win competitions. “They had a great Champions Trophy,” said Finch. “So regardless of what kind of form Pakistan go in with, they’re always incredibly dangerous.”
But when Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmad was reminded of his team’s poor show in the UAE, he said they were not thinking about the past, but focusing more on the Australia clash.
“Our morale is very high, and so is our momentum,” he said. “So, hopefully, we’ll do very good against them tomorrow.”
Finch is rightfully wary of Pakistan because he believes they have world-class players in their team. “Babar (Azam) is in great touch batting at No. 3 and holding their batting together,” he said. “They also have some fantastic bowlers. (Mohammad) Amir has come back and he looks to be at his best. He’s swinging the ball again. Wahab (Riaz) has been fast and aggressive. Shadab (Khan) is a great bowler. Hassan (Ali) had a great Champions Trophy as well.”
The weather forecast suggests that a rain-shortened match looks likely. A cloudy start would be favourable to the bowlers, and hence whoever wins the toss is likely to field first. “Weather will affect both teams,” said Sarfaraz. “But if the match is shortened, we will have to change plans. Under these conditions, anyone who wins the toss will definitely want to bowl first.”
The Pakistan skipper categorically stated that he was not even thinking about the strength of the Australia team. He said he was only thinking about his team and their own plans to win.
But Finch fears that early losses could dampen their chances of reaching the semi-finals. “It’s important that you get early wins on the board because if at all there are a couple of washouts then we do not want to be just outside the top four.”
Given the uncertainty of a full 50-over match, Finch is ready for any number of overs they will have to play due to the rain. “You just have to make sure you’re as well prepared as you can be,” he said. “You never bank on rain or anything like that. While we prepare for the full 50-overs, we must also be ready to work on the spot.”
The Australian final XI will be decided only after one more look at the weather. “We will need to wait and see whether we play the extra batter or bowler depending on the conditions tomorrow,” Finch said.