Misfiring Aussies face must-win Pakistan cricket showdown
Mohali (India) (AFP)
A stumbling Australia will need to raise their game when they take on Pakistan in a must-win group match of the World Twenty20 in Mohali on Friday.
The Australians handed Bangladesh a second straight defeat in their previous outing but survived a scare against Mashrafe Mortaza's depleted side.
The reigning 50-over world champions have appeared tentative at best, going down to New Zealand in their opening encounter and sweating for a win against the Tigers.
"We haven't been good enough in the middle overs. We made it difficult at the end," captain Steven Smith admitted after the game against Bangladesh.
"Pakistan and India play well in these conditions and we have to do better. Our players have to adapt better," he said, referring to his team's next two outings in the tournament.
Pakistan are hurting after defeats to India and an impressive New Zealand, who have already booked their place in the semi-finals from Group B.
Another defeat will finish off Pakistan's hopes of advancing any further in the tournament, a huge disappointment for a side that was eyeing a repeat of their 2009 title winning feat.
Skipper Shahid Afridi, who has taken flak for his side's performances, looked dejected as he hinted at an imminent retirement after the defeat to the Black Caps.
"In every game, we're making mistakes and it's not good for us. Maybe the next game will be the last one of my career," the flamboyant all-rounder said.
"For now we have to forget this game and focus on Australia," said the 36-year-old who no longer plays Test and one-day cricket and has retired on several occasions.
Afridi might be tempted to tinker his playing eleven for the crunch outing given neither his seamers nor spinners have looked threatening against quality opposition.
Australia could consider bringing in the fit-again batsman Aaron Finch, who has yet to play largely because of the way his replacement Usman Khawaja has stood up at the top of the order.
Finch, who is the top-ranked batsman in the shortest format of the game, was dumped as T20 captain in favour of Test and ODI captain Steve Smith last month.
Khawaja made a match-winning 58 against Bangladesh after scoring a handy 38 against the Black Caps.
Australia (from): Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Ashton Agar, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, John Hastings, Josh Hazlewood, Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Peter Nevill, Andrew Tye, Shane Watson, Adam Zampa
Pakistan (from): Shahid Afridi (captain), Anwar Ali, Imad Wasim, Khalid Latif, Khurram Manzoor, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Irfan, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Sami, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Sharjeel Khan, Umar Akmal, Wahab Riaz
© 2016 AFP