After suffering a 36-run defeat to India, defending champions Australia will look to bounce back against an unpredictable Pakistan in the 17th match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 at County Ground, Taunton on Wednesday.
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Australia opened their World Cup campaign with a relatively easy outing against minnows, then hard fought to beat the West Indies before running into pre-tournament favourites India.
Pakistan looked like a team stuck in a different era in their loss to the Windies but they bounced back in the most unlikely fashion with a clinical win over hosts and top-ranked England.
They couldn't get a chance to keep that momentum going due to their next match against Sri Lanka getting washed out and so Australia will be wary of the danger their next opponents pose.
Australia fell to their first defeat of the tournament in their previous match against India on Sunday. While the defending champions have looked stronger than they ever have in the last year and a half, Australia were, nevertheless, outplayed by the Indian batsmen and never looked on course to chasing down the target of 353.
Pakistan, however, will need to show the same intensity they did against England to pull off a win on Wednesday. Australia's batting unit is purring with Steve Smith scoring consecutive half-centuries in their last two matches. The rest of the top order consisting of David Warner, Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja have all looked in good touch while Alex Carey has upped his game lower down the order.
Australia's batting prowess was most visible when they fought back from 79/5 to post a total of 288 thanks to Smith's 73 and Nathan Coulter-Nile's rearguard assault which saw him scoring 92 runs.
Against England, Pakistan looked an entirely different team from the one that turned up against the West Indies. There were healthy partnerships all the way down the top six and they were backed up by the bowlers who never let the mighty England batting line-up off the hook. This meant that despite Joe Root and Jos Buttler getting hundreds, England fell 14 runs short of the 349-run target that was set for them.
Pakistan stand a chance of truly putting their hat in the fray for being called tournament favourites if they manage a similar performance against Australia.
But another Pakistan player who will be in focus is Mohammad Amir, the prodigious seamer who can destroy any side.
For Australia, David Warner and Steve Smith remain the most important players.
Marcus Stoinis suffered a side strain in the match against India and has been ruled out of the Pakistan clash. All-rounder Mitchell Marsh is all set to join Australian squad as a backup for injured Stoinis.
(With Agency inputs)