Defending champions Australia are looking to get back to winning ways in the 2019 ICC World Cup as they take on Pakistan at Taunton.
Australia had started their campaign with wins against Afghanistan and West Indies but were handed a 36-run loss by India in their most recent outing.
Pakistan, meanwhile, lost their opening match to West Indies before bouncing back with a win against England. Their most recent match against Sri Lanka was washed out due to rain.
Will the five-time champions prevail at Taunton or will Pakistan inflict a second consecutive defeat on Aaron Finch’s men? Find out by following the ball-by-ball commentary from the game below.
The 17th match of the 2019 ICC World Cup in England promises to be a treat – weather permitting – with defending champions Australia set to take on Pakistan at Taunton on Wednesday.
It will be the 10th meeting of the two sides at the World Cup level and there has been little to choose between them previously. While Australia have won five of the nine World Cup meetings so far, Pakistan have prevailed in four.
Wednesday’s clash could very well come down to the minutest of margins and will depend on several intriguing sub-plots. Here, we look at the three key individual battles which could prove to be decisive at Taunton.
AMIR V WARNER
Much was expected from David Warner at the World Cup as the left-hander prepared to make his international comeback after a one-year absence. His stupendous showings in the IPL recently would have given the opening batsman plenty of confidence but he comes into Wednesday’s clash on the back of a disappointing showing against India.
Warner’s scratchy innings of 56 from 84 deliveries was a pain to watch at times with Australia attempting to chase a mammoth 353 and the southpaw was also responsible for running out his skipper Aaron Finch. He will be desperate to make amends for that poor show after being criticised from all quarters and will want to serve a reminder of his attacking prowess.
Stopping him early in his tracks will be important for Pakistan and they will hope that Mohammad Amir can do the trick for them. The left-armed pacer had been off colour for nearly two years while heading into the World Cup but has started to show signs of getting back to his very best.
Amir has claimed five wickets already in two outings so far and will be in confident mood for the Australia clash.
BABAR V CUMMINS
There is no doubt that Babar Azam is the linchpin with the bat for Pakistan with the 24-year-old starting to emerge as one of the most prolific ODI batsmen in the game currently.
The right-hander’s consistency continues to touch new heights and it is no surprise that he is averaging over 51 after playing 66 ODIs for Pakistan so far. The top-order batsman has been in good form in the World Cup as well and scored a fine 63 in his side’s stunning win over hosts and favourites England.
Babar, however, will have his task cut out against Pat Cummins who has been equally consistent with the ball for Australia over the past two years. The 26-year-old pacer bowls with plenty of heart and knows how to hit the right spots to get batsmen in trouble. He has been a steady performer for the Aussies in this World Cup with six wickets in three outings and he will be the biggest threat to Pakistan’s top-order including Babar.
SHADAB V SMITH
Wrist-spin has emerged as one of the best wicket-taking threats of late in ODI cricket and Pakistan have an excellent proponent of its art in the form of Shadab Khan. The young leg-spinner has stellar numbers in the format with 49 wickets in 36 outings while going at an economy-rate of less than five runs an over.
Shadab has all the variations in his arsenal to flummox the best of batsmen and he will be tasked with the job of stopping Australia’s Steve Smith.
Smith is one of the better players of spin in Australia’s squad and is capable of anchoring the innings for his side. He has been in superb form with the bat since making his return to international cricket and comes into Wednesday’s clash after registering back-to-back fifties against West Indies and India.
His battle with Shadab is bound to be an intriguing one and could decide the final outcome.
The second week of the 2019 World Cup has been exciting and distressing in equal measure. While we have seen some superb performances with bat and ball, the unforgiving English weather has resulted in three rained-off games.
England smashed a record 386-6 against Bangladesh while India amassed 352-5 against the Aussies. Sri Lanka, unfortunately, have seen two of their games washed out, which won’t bring them any cheer.
Amid all the highs and lows, we look at decisions and strategies that hit the mark or missed. Here are our picks from the second week.
HIT: Kohli coming to Smith’s rescue
Yes, this does not pertain to scoring runs or taking wickets. But the decision by India captain Virat Kohli to take matters into his own hand and stop Indian fans from jeering Australia batsman Steve Smith was incredible and timely.
Smith was booed and called a ‘cheater’ by a section of the largely Indian crowd at The Oval. The Aussies have been expecting it but Kohli decided to put an end to it, even going as far as apologising to Smith.
It must be remembered Kohli stopped short of calling Smith a cheat during the ill-tempered Test series in India in 2017 for seeking the dressing room’s assistance for a decision review. For Kohli to now come to his rescue means most fans, including English supporters during the Ashes, will be inclined to let Smith put the ball-tampering scandal behind.
MISS: Lack of reserve days
Sixteen matches in and we have had three washouts. This is already a record for a World Cup and we are not even half-way through the tournament.
The ICC tried to defend their decision to not have reserve days for the league phase, stating that doing so would be a logistical nightmare with arrangements required for additional staff, accommodation, volunteers and officials.
Well, the 1999 World Cup had reserve days for non-knockout matches. Does the ICC mean it is better to have no matches at all than make arrangements for a reserve day and mitigate the loss?
More matches are certain to be rained off. And with each passing day and rain cloud, the ICC’s decision is looking like a monumental failure.