Bengaluru, Oct 20: Former Australia Test captain Tim Paine feels the side’s big challenge will be to get Pakistan batting duo of captain Babar Azam and wicket-keeper Mohammad Rizwan out quickly to make inroads into their inconsistent middle-order line-up ahead of the clash at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium on Friday.
Australia come into the clash after picking up their first win of the tournament against Sri Lanka post defeats to India and South Africa, while Pakistan arrive after wins against Netherlands and Sri Lanka before losing to India in Ahmedabad.
“In terms of Pakistan now, they are a hard team to read. They've got so much talent, they're extremely unpredictable, but with that, they are seriously dangerous. They've got the number one ranked ODI batsman in the world Babar Azam, he's on fire and his record against us is pretty good.”
“With Mohammad Rizwan the wicketkeeper, they're two key batters at three and four. I like Mitchell Starc to Babar if you can swing one down the line … if we can get those two guys out, they are so inconsistent through the middle order … if we can get them in early enough and expose them as India did, you can knock them over.”
“That'll be the challenge. How do we control Babar and Rizwan? Can we get into their middle order early enough? I think the way Zampa, Pat Cummins and crew are starting to bowl, I think we can make some early inroads. If we do that, we should be able to take care of business pretty comfortably,” said Paine on SEN Radio.
Paine also felt that leg-spinner Zampa taking 4-47 from his eight overs in Australia’s win over Sri Lanka also holds the five-time champions in good stead. “I think off the back of the Sri Lanka win, the pleasing thing I saw out of that was the Adam Zampa performance with four wickets.”
“But again, it wasn't just that, we've spoken a lot about the body language of the team. ‘Zamps’ when I play against him, he's always at you and not just with his skill and his leg spin, but he's in the contest and his energy is always at you in front of you.”
“I thought that was lacking a little bit in the first couple of games and maybe because his confidence was down and he wasn't at his best. When he took a couple of wickets, you could see that energy, that sort of spring in his step. That's a huge positive for us given we've only got the one specialist spinner,” he added.
Paine thinks Friday’s clash holds huge importance for Australia as a win over Pakistan can take them to number three in the points table. I tell you what (winning against Sri Lanka), it makes this game even bigger. This game is huge because of India beating Pakistan and Afghanistan beating England, all of a sudden that table is open.”
“But if we lose tonight, it's a two-game swing because Pakistan are 2-1. We can draw level with them on four points. Or if they go to six (points) and we stay at two, you're looking like you cannot make the semis unfortunately. It is a huge game.” (IANS)