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Stuart Dalgleish 13th May 2010 - 17:53

Awesome Aussies to send holders Pak-ing

Before the tournament started I expected Australia (4/9) to be the team to beat, and I see no reason to change that opinion, even though they are playing the holders.

Pakistan (7/4) don't particularly have a good record against the Aussies recently and they haven't really set the world alight in this tournament either, getting through to the semis in no small part to the fact that England beat New Zealand in the Super Eights when they didn't really need to as they had already qualified.

But it seems that Pakistan have taken the mantle of being infuriating, inconsistent and difficult to predict from England; they can have moments of brilliance but are equally prone to spectacular collapses, and in their defeat against Australia in the group stage they were fairly comprehensively beaten.

That defeat was incredibly Pakistan's 11 straight defeat in all forms of the game to the Aussies following their disastrous tour Down Under at the end of last year, things were so bad there that players ended up getting indefinitely banned from the team due to infighting and Shahid Afridi was banned for a couple of games after inexplicably biting the ball in an ODI at the WACA.

Things haven't really improved that much since then either, they've lost against England twice and New Zealand once, with a few wins interspersed against England, Bangladesh and South Africa in a winner-takes-all clash in the Super Eights stage at St Lucia.

Australia have had no such problems finding wins, having lost just two matches in any form of the game since November last year, and they haven't lost a T20 since the last World Twenty20 in June, where they were knocked out in the group stage after losing both games in England prior to their Ashes defeat.

While they may not have the legendary names such as Warne, McGrath and Ponting (for Twenty20) to call upon, they do have a balanced, well organised and hard working team full of players that can step up and guide their team home.

The top of the run charts don't predominately feature Australian players, but if the top order fails the likes of Cameron White (13/2 top Australian batsman), David Hussey (6/1) and Mike Hussey (8/1) are all perfectly capable of posting a total to keep the Aussies competitive.

Pakistan do have a player up there in the run charts, Salman Butt (10/3 top Pakistan batsman), and they'll need him and fellow opener Kamran Akmal (10/3) to make sure they're on top of their game to give their team a solid platform to build from.

Butt has nearly 200 runs and a decent strike rate to go with it, unfortunately for him though the rest of his colleagues haven't managed to put anywhere near enough runs on the board. Captain Afridi (6/1) can often be the man for the big occasion though, as proved in last year's tournament, and if he can get his swash buckling batting style going he might just be able to see Pakistan over the line, but it doesn't look likely to me.

The reason I can't see Pakistan managing to get a competitive total is Australia's fantastic bowling attack.

It's built on the blistering pace of top wicket-taker Dirk Nannes (11/4 top Australian bowler), Shaun Tait (7/2) and Mitchell Johnson (3/1) then they've got a useful spin option with Steven Smith (9/2), who's helped himself to nine wickets so far in the tournament.

If one of those has a bad day then, like the batsman, they still have enough quality to get them out of trouble; Shane Watson (8/1) isn't just limited to getting runs at the top of the order and is very capable of picking up wickets, as is David Hussey (10/1) who's got five dismissals at a superb economy rate.

Pakistan have really missed the injured Umar Gul; Saeed Ajmal (3/1 top Pakistan bowler) has done well getting 10 wickets so far and Mohammad Aamer (7/2) keeps it fairly tight while picking up a few wickets too, but the rest of the attack has looked pretty average and I'd be surprised if they have enough about them to rip through the Australian card.

Australia were outstanding when winning the Champions Trophy, and they look like getting the chance to add another trophy to their already bulging cabinet.



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