Colombo, March 18 (IANS) The much awaited Australia-Pakistan clash at the R. Premadasa Stadium here Saturday is far from being a dead rubber as both teams would like to end the league stage with a win and finish at the top of Group A.
Australia are on an amazing 34-match winning streak in the World Cup and captain Ricky Ponting has made it clear that his boys are proud of the record and would stretch it further by beating Pakistan
“Pakistan are a dangerous side,” said Ponting “They’ve beaten Sri lanka here. They have a number of match-winners. Afridi and Gul are their standout players,” he told reporters here.
Pakistan, meanwhile, are confident that they can beat the Aussies. Pakistan were the last team that conquered Australia in a World Cup match – in 1999 – and their skipper Shahid Afridi said that his team can do it again.
“The Australians are very tough both mentally and physically but we know how to tackle them,” Afridi told reporters. “We will come out with something new to beat them tomorrow,” he added.
Pakistan are expected to make just one change to the eleven that won against Zimbabwe by seven wickets in Kandy last Monday. Young batsman Umar Akmal will replace out-of-form opener Ahmed Shehzad.
Afridi hinted that Pakistan will not include retiring fast bowler Shoaib Akhtar for the match.
“We have a good combination right now,” he said.
The Premadasa wicket seems to be a spinner’s paradise, a fact that could give an edge to Pakistan, which have three spinners – Afridi, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Hafeez – in their line-up.
Australia have mostly been relying on fast bowlers for wickets but Ponting hoped that his spin duo of Jason Krejza and Steven Smith will shine against Pakistan.
Pakistan: Shahid Afridi (captain), Mohammed Hafeez, Asad Shafiq, Kamran Akmal, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Abdul Razzaq, Abdur Rehman, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz.
Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Cameron White, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Jason Krejza, Shaun Tait.
Umpires: Tony Hill (New Zealand) and Marias Erasmus (South Africa)
Third umpire: Nigel Long (England)
Match referee: Chris Broad (England)