Volatile Pakistan aim for third final

Express May 14, 2010

KARACHI: With lady luck beaming widely, defending champions Pakistan registered their third successive semi-final appearance in the World Twenty20s.

A favourable draw, based on seedings, significant contribution by England and the miracle that was their fielders holding onto catches meant that Pakistan take on the team of the tournament - Australia. Unpredictability, a trait mastered by Pakistan, has led them to unprecedented acts of glory. Pitted against another unbeaten team last year, the team not only managed a convincing win, in terms of authority on the match and not the winning margin, but also beat another unbeaten side en route the winners’ podium.

However, Australia, who failed to make it past the first round last year – losing to Sri Lanka and the West Indies – provide a completely different, much more brutal, opposition.

Pakistan’s batting woes remain a worry

Pakistani batsmen have failed to get going since the openers’ world-record 142-run partnership in their first match. Pakistan failed to overcome New Zealand’s 133 and managed only 157 in reply to Australia’s mammoth 191. The team’s top-scorer remains Salman Butt, the under-fire opener and brief cameos from Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi catapulting the team towards respectability against South Africa in the last-gasp win.

Saeed Ajmal remains Pakistan’s main weapon with the ball. The absence of Umar Gul has been felt deep by the defending champions as neither Mohammad Sami nor Mohammad Asif have provided apt assistance to Mohammad Aamer. “We’ve played well but just missed some opportunities,” said Afridi. “Overall the guys are very confident after the last game and I think it will be a great game against Australia.”

Australia’s perfect tournament

Following the Ashes loss, everything has been absolutely perfect for Australia. They won the Champions Trophy, demolished the West Indies, Pakistan and New Zealand at home and have remained unbeaten in the tournament. David Warner and Shane Watson, the openers, remains the team’s top-scorers so far while Dirk Nannes, with 13 wickets, is the tournament’s highest wicket-taker followed closely by leg-spinner Steve Smith and fast-bowler Shaun Tait.

Published in the Express Tribune, May 14th, 2010.