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Australia look for momentum; Pakistan aim to be back on track

Last updated on 19 Oct 2023 | 02:48 PM
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Australia look for momentum; Pakistan aim to be back on track

Bengaluru paints itself in the World Cup colors to host one of the relevant clashes in the league stage

Bengaluru joins the World Cup party at a crucial juncture in the 2023 ODI World Cup. Hosting its first match of the tournament, the Chinnaswamy Stadium will see two heavyweights fight for their campaign. Australia are looking to gain momentum after a shocking start to their World Cup. Pakistan aim to recover from a disheartening loss against India. There will be no better tonic for either side. The losing side will be in a precarious position regarding their semi-final chances. 

Both sides have fitness concerns. A number of Pakistan players fell sick in the wave of the viral fever that has been going around in Bengaluru. For Australia, the lone specialist spinner, Adam Zampa, complained of back spasms. 

In more similarities, both sides have been subpar in both batting and bowling. With Australia, you can add the fielding factor, too, something one will generally attach to Pakistan. Both sides need more from their new ball pacers - Mitchell Starc and Shaheen Shah Afridi in this case. Also, both sides need runs from their number three batter - Steve Smith and Babar Azam

Things to watch out for

Will the real Steve Smith please stand up?

Runs from Smith has been a big miss in Australia’s World Cup campaign. The way their batting line-up is framed, they lack experience in the middle order. It becomes imperative for one of their top three batters to bat deep. Both openers, Mitchell Marsh and David Warner are attacking batters, putting the onus on Smith to be the nucleus around whom the team revolves. 

This year, however, Smith averages only 25.3 in ODI cricket. The most worrisome aspect of this slump has been his failure to convert his starts. Against India in Chennai, he was out to a ripper from Ravindra Jadeja for 46. He had a rough decision to deal with against South Africa and was out for a duck against Sri Lanka. 

It has been a combination of bad luck and a lapse in concentration leading to under-par numbers. Given Australia’s situation in this World Cup, Smith will need to shrug out all these factors and play a relevant knock for his team’s cause. 

Pakistan’s spin bowling woes 

Pakistan’s spin bowling returns are in the doldrums. Among the World Cup teams this year, their average of 42.9 is better than only Netherlands. This World Cup, it is 51.8. 

Pakistan are one of the few sides in this tournament that can fit in a leg-spinner, slow left-arm orthodox spinners, and an off-break bowler without changing their balance. Ideally, they should be targeting teams with their spinners. Australia, averaging only 24.3 against spin in this World Cup at a strike rate of only 72.5, are prone to spin. 

But none of Pakistan's spinners have been in wicket-taking form this year. The only spinner from their team to average under 40 this year is Usama Mir (35.1), who isn’t expected to make the XI. Meanwhile, Shadab Khan (42.6) and Mohammad Nawaz (48.1) have lacked penetration. This World Cup, they were 65.5 and 70, respectively. 

Bowling at the Chinnaswamy Stadium would be a further challenge for the Shadab and Co. It is a small venue with little to offer to the spinners - an economy of 5.9 for spinners at an average of 54.2 in its last five ODIs. 

Ground Details and Conditions

As soon as we hear the name of this stadium, the first thing that comes to mind is it's a paradise for batters and a graveyard for bowlers in limited overs. In this venue's last six ODI innings, 300+ have been scored in four and 285+ in the other two. Spinners have little help here as the graphic below suggests. 

On the eve of the game, the Australian skipper, Pat Cummins, has said he is hoping for a high-scoring game. 

The weather is clear for a good day of cricket. Strangely enough, the forecast says a 0% chance of rain in Bengaluru. 

Tactical Insights

> Expect the Australian seamers to bowl a lot of short balls to Imam Ul Haq first up. The left-handed opener averages only 15.3 against short-pitched deliveries, getting out three times since 2022. 

> Since 2022, Babar Azam averages 35.5 against off-spinners and 22.7 against left-arm seamers, much lower than other bowling types. Thus, Australia can target the Pakistan skipper with Glenn Maxwell and Starc at either end. 

> Steve Smith averages only 15.7 against pace this year for seven dismissals. Five times he has fallen to the good length and four times to the balls moving in. Hence, the Pakistan pacers are well-placed to test the former Australian skipper. 

Probable XIs


Having scored their first win, Australia should go ahead with an unchanged XI. However, Zampa was suffering from back spasms during the win against Sri Lanka and didn’t complete his spell to push for a five-for. Given the nature of the Chinnaswamy Stadium, there is a case to rest him and play four pacers with the addition of Sean Abbott. 

David Warner, Mitchell Marsh, Steve Smith, Marnus Labuschagne, Josh Inglis (wk), Glenn Maxwell, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins ( c ), Sean Abbott/Adam Zampa, Josh Hazlewood


The Men in Green can also have the same XI on the cards despite a heavy defeat in their previous game.

Abdullah Shafique, Imam Ul Haq, Babar Azam ( c ), Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Saud Shakeel, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf

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