World Cup 2023: Pakistan eye victory against heavy-weight Australia today

"Every playing XI member of will have to be at his best against Australia," Pakistan head coach says

Team Pakistan celebrates the dismissal of Netherlands captain Scott Edwards during the 2023 ICC Men´s Cricket World Cup ODI match between Pakistan and Netherlands in India on October 6, 2023. — AFP
Team Pakistan celebrates the dismissal of Netherlands captain Scott Edwards during the 2023 ICC Men´s Cricket World Cup ODI match between Pakistan and Netherlands in India on October 6, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD: Both Pakistan and Australia have their eyes set on putting their World Cup campaigns back on track, hoping for a victory in the ongoing ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2023 in India, where the match between the Green Shirts and Aussies will take place at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bangalore today (Friday).

Grant Bradburn, Pakistan head coach, stressed the team is prepared to avoid plunging into loopholes with their aim to beat the five-time World Cup champions.

Pakistan, who were beaten by arch-rivals India in their last match, have so far won two out of the three games they've played so far. Meanwhile, the Aussies will be hoping to secure their fourth outing after losing two out of three matches in the mega tournament.

Early reports emerging from Bangalore (India) suggest that the wicket has some grass on it that could support seamers in patches.

"There is some grass on the wicket as we have experienced Thursday evening. You never know what the condition would be on Friday morning but the chances are there that a quality pace bowler may extract some bounce out of it,” a Pakistan team official, when contacted, said.

Bradburn, in a video interview, called on the team members to be at their best against Australia. “We have not been able so far to bowl as we should have been. We did not bowl with a proper line and length. There will be a very small margin of error and every member of the playing XI will have to be at his best against Australia.”

He added that Pakistan will have to seize the game at crucial moments.

“We need to seize crucial moments of the game to tilt the balance in our favour. I think the first impression from everyone was cool, it is a pretty small venue. Boundaries are short here and the conditions for the game look very good,” Bradburn said.

“We have done our homework on the venue — it is quite a high-scoring venue that probably relates more to the boundary size, which is 63-64 meters. The batters really enjoyed the opportunity to get on some true surfaces and the bowlers enjoyed it too as there was a fair bit of bounce.

“It is going to be a venue where the batters are going to really enjoy getting in on and the bowlers are also going to be really asked some serious questions. I do not think there is going to be a lot of margin for error on this wicket. As a bowling attack, you know, we haven’t been quite as accurate as we would like to be in recent times and this venue is going to demand some discipline and accuracy,” the head coach said.

Speaking about the match against India in Ahmedabad, which did not produce favourable results, Bradburn said: "There is always pressure on the team to win. When we do not, we critique our performances very, very closely and we’ve done that over the last couple of days, too. I think the experiences from Ahmedabad were fantastic. It provided some crucial learnings from which the team will benefit in the tournament.”

“It was a great opportunity to learn and grow from the whole experience of playing in front of a very large, hostile crowd. It is unusual to play in front of a crowd, which is pretty much, you know, solely there for the opposition. However, it was nice to hear some silence as well at times when we were batting well.

“We had some really good honest conversations yesterday as a group talking about how we wanted to take the game on more and we did have an opportunity to be a little bit more assertive with the bat earlier on.

“As a result, we put ourselves under a little bit of pressure and then you know, we just didn’t get enough to really put pressure on in the second innings. That, however, doesn’t take away from the fact that as a group, we’ve also acknowledged that we didn’t put enough balls in good areas.

“We have also had some wonderful insights about the venues too -- the ball is scuffing up quite quickly and looks like it is dog chewed after about 20 overs. It obviously means the ball becomes a little bit softer, which makes it difficult to score in the later stages.

“That also brings in more reverse [swing] which plays into our hands. So all of those elements are a good learning for us that we are taking on-board.”

Australia have had an upper hand over Pakistan in the 50-over World Cup, winning six out of 10 matches. But the most recent outing in the format between the two sides saw Pakistan come on top with a 2-1 win in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League series.

Undaunted by the past record, Pakistan, Bradburn said, are all set for the Australia challenge and are eager to make it 3-1 before they move to Chennai for their back-to-back contests against Afghanistan and South Africa.

“It is a collection of the 150 best cricketers on the planet and there’s 10 worthy teams here,” he said. “So, and as we are seeing in the last week, anyone can beat anyone. We have done our homework on Australia. We know what they can contain, we know their style of play, we know what their strengths are and we know where we might be able to exploit them.

“But, most of all, we are looking into the mirror and making sure that we’re true to ourselves by making sure that we are challenging each other in the right way.

"We are a tight unit and we back everyone in this group, but we are certainly becoming more comfortable to challenge the performances and roles in the different phases of the game. We acknowledge as a group that we haven’t put together the true performance across all three disciplines yet but we know when we do that, it’s a beautiful thing.”