A delayed flight, a midnight arrival at their hotel in Colombo and one afternoon coaching session on Friday might seem like a rushed preparation for Australia’s match against Pakistan on Saturday. In fact, their build-up has been something however hurried. Ricky Ponting’s men have spent over a month travelling around India and Sri Lanka, however in between rounds of golf and elephant rides, they’ve hardly got out of second gear on the sphere.
So far, they haven’t needed to, and that they enter Saturday’s game unbeaten and with first place in cluster A there for the taking. Wins over Zimbabwe and a lacklustre New Zealand were followed a fortnight later by victories against Kenya and Canada. every now and then their opponents have shocked them with fireworks however overall it has been a slow burn, dampened by the wash-out against Sri Lanka, that was poised to be their first major challenge.
Meanwhile, Pakistan have spent a month in Sri Lanka, stumbling once when Ross Taylor took a liking to the short boundaries in Pallekele, however otherwise steering themselves through to the quarter-finals with relative comfort, together with a win over the house team. All that this match will determine is who Pakistan and Australia face in their first knockout game, and whether they play it in Colombo, Dhaka or Ahmedabad. however it’ll additionally offer Ponting a sign of where his men sit.
"We very do begin to feel that the tournament is beginning currently," Ponting said. "We’ve had our games along the approach and the other huge game we tend to had in our pool matches was the game against Sri Lanka, that was washed out, unfortunately. We’ve been very excited regarding playing this game against Pakistan for quite a moment.
"During those longer breaks, we’ve trained exceptionally onerous and trained very, very well. we tend to just haven’t had the continuity we would have liked with our games. however we tend to got one or two of good results in Bangalore last week. At this stage we are the solely undefeated team in the tournament, that is good for us, however i think we’ll get a stronger feel tomorrow at the end of the game for just where we’re at and how well we’re placed in this World Cup."
The Australians will fancy their attack against Pakistan, who have been bowled out for 184 by Canada and 192 by New Zealand in their past three games. however the massive challenge are overcoming a Pakistan bowling cluster led by Umar Gul, together with his swinging yorkers, and the captain Shahid Afridi, who is that the leading wicket-taker in the tournament.
The last time the teams met in an ODI, Afridi stuck the ball in his mouth. This time, he’ll be craving for bite off the pitch and at the Premadasa, where even Steven Smith was turning the ball sharply before the rain came against Sri Lanka, Afridi could be a few.
"He has been the standout bowler, wickets-wise, in the tournament to date," Ponting said. "He tends to regulate the center of their bowling innings particularly well. He doesn’t select plenty of runs, either, that is probably the most reason he is taken the amount of wickets that he has. He builds up pressure, and if he builds up pressure from his finish you’ll be able to guarantee that the guy at the opposite finish is additional doubtless to strike and take wickets likewise. That was one amongst the massive things we tend to spoke regarding this morning, making sure we tend to play him well.
"They’ve got variety of match-winning players in their team. If you look around their better-performed player through the tournament to date, you’d check out Afridi and Gul as the 2 guys who have been their standout players. we know we’re progressing to have to play those guys well tomorrow if we would like to win the game. they are a dangerous side. They proved that last time they played Sri Lanka here at this venue, how smart a side they can be."
Pakistan were additionally the last team to beat Australia in a very World Cup match, at Headingley in 1999, and Ponting’s men have currently extended their streak to 34 games while not a loss. creating it thirty five are their toughest challenge to date in this tournament, however once a month in second gear, they’ll be happy to finally put the foot down.