• Friday, January 30, 2015

Chance to seize momentum

Bishwajit Roy
Star Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal carries his gears ahead of a batting practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: STAR
Star Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal carries his gears ahead of a batting practice session at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur yesterday. PHOTO: STAR

While not spoken aloud, it is implicitly understood that Australia are the team who can break their title drought in the fifth edition of the ICC World Twenty20. Therefore momentum will be important for the Aussies to maximise their chances of adding another jewel on their crown, a jewel which has eluded them since 2007 and Australian skipper George Bailey also admitted it yesterday ahead of their first match, today's Group 2 clash against a wounded Pakistan at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium in Mirpur.
History shows how dangerous the Aussies can be if they garner some momentum because they know the craft of maintaining that momentum throughout a tournament. Arguably the most dangerous batting line-up has given Australia the favourites tag. David Warner, who is now at his peak, can eviscerate any bowling attack and when you see the names that follow -- Aaron Finch, Shane Watson, Brad Hodge, Bailey, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Glenn Maxwell – it does not seem to be much of a bother that all-rounder James Faulkner will miss the game due to a knee injury.
But can this vaunted batting line-up overcome the versatile Pakistan spin challenge?
The turn and spin the pitch provided in the first game between India and Pakistan propelled Mohammad Hafeez, the Pakistan skipper, to warn that conditions will suit them more against Australia and Pakistan coach Moin Khan said the same. These teams last met in a T20I in the group stages of the last edition in Sri Lanka, when Pakistan cruised to victory thanks to their spinners. The magical Saeed Ajmal has a staggering record against the Aussies with 18 wickets in 10 T20Is and given the fact that spin is likely to be their trump card Pakistan may bolster their attack with another spinner in Zulfiqar Babar at the expense of a seam bowler to bounce back from their seven-wicket defeat to India.
Bailey was aware of all the facts and the spin challenge but he was confident about his batting line-up. “I think we have seen most of them now, in different times. What you do is talk about your experiences from the past and try to make it better. They have three spinners among the top ten in T20Is so they are a very strong spin side. The conditions can be challenging for us, but we have a strong batting line-up that can overcome that.”
But Pakistan's batting will need a big improvement, regardless of the fact that they have won seven out of their last 11 games in the format, as it was a tame batting display against their perennial rivals on Friday night.
The absence of Mitchell Johnson due to injury definitely weakened Australia's attack and their slow bowlers also may not be at the level of their opponents' overall they have a very decent T20 attack, which is why Bailey also said that they have more versatility in the bowling department compared to their last one in Sri Lanka.

“I think we have a little more versatility, in terms of what we can do with the ball. I think we have a little more power with the bat. These are the two differences,” said Bailey when he was asked about the difference between his team and the one that played in Sri Lanka in 2012.

Published: 12:00 am Sunday, March 23, 2014

Last modified: 12:56 am Sunday, March 23, 2014

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