Batting holds the key as Australia face Pakistan

Australia and Pakistan have faced similar problems in the lead-up to their quarter-final clash at the Kinrara Oval: the batsmen of both teams have failed to fire.

Australia had one impressive showing against Namibia when captain Michael Hill’s brutal 124 off 71 balls led them to 312 but even in that match their lower-middle order collapsed. In the next two games, Australia were restricted by Nepal to 206 and Sri Lanka’s spinners dried up the runs so effectively that Australia could muster only 172. Several of their top-order batsmen – Phillip Hughes, Hill and Steven Smith – have got off to aggressive starts but they haven’t been able to carry on. The bowling attack has been the main reason for Pakistan’s unbeaten run in the league phase and will severely test Australia’s batting.

Pakistan’s batting has struggled even more than Australia’s. They are yet to pass 200 in the tournament, having been dismissed for 156 against New Zealand and restricted to 173 for 8 by Zimbabwe, a team that lost to Malaysia. Their opening combination has failed to click, with Umar Akmal, the younger brother of Pakistan wicketkeeper Kamran, yet to reach double figures.

The encouraging aspect for Pakistan, however, is that their bowlers – led by Adil Raza, a right-arm fast bowler, who has taken eight wickets at 7.75 apiece – have been red hot, managing to defend whatever target their batsmen have set. They ripped through Malaysia for 75, dismissed New Zealand for 129 and allowed Zimbabwe only 86.

At Monday’s knockout, it could come down to which batting side performs on the day to set up a semi-final clash against South Africa.