Colombo: Pakistan coach Dav Whatmore was quite downcast after the team’s defeat at the hands of India on Sunday, and had to immediately switch to planning ahead for the crucial clash with the Australians.
The biggest headache for Pakistan will be how to stop Shane Watson from winning his fifth man of the match award in five games, since he looks to be in the form of his life with bat and ball.
In response to a query from MAIL TODAY about how they could stop Watson, Whatmore joked: “Maybe we need to poison his food,” before adding on a serious note: “He is a human being and we hope he would make mistakes.” That statement just reflects the helplessness opposition think-tanks are feeling right now with Watson (234 runs, 10 wickets) leading both the run-scorers’ and wicket- takers’ charts.
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“Things are just falling my way at the moment, I suppose. You always prepare as well as you possibly can and hope things go well,” Watson said modestly after the win over South Africa on Sunday.
The margin of their defeat to India means that Pakistan’s destiny is no longer in their hands, despite it being the only slip-up of their tournament so far.
The Aussie bowlers have been largely successful in their four games, coming under the cosh just once when they conceded 190-plus against the West Indies.
Pacers Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc have done the job, while Xavier Doherty was a revelation with three wickets against South Africa.
For Pakistan, it’s the batsmen who need to step up after their collective failure against India.
Captain Hafeez needs to give the innings some momentum at the top, especially given the hit-and-miss nature of his partner Imran Nazir, and Umar Akmal, who starred against the Proteas, probably needs to bat higher up than his current No. 6 position.
But the key figure in the match could be off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, who has been a thorn in Australia’s flesh, and after a couple of lacklustre performances, will be raring to go.