Australia will be desperate for a win after their loss to India
Pakistan will also want to score two points, after unluckily dropping a point when their game with a weak Sri Lanka got washed out because of rain
Mint tells you what to watch out for in Game 17 of the World Cup in Taunton on Wednesday.
Small ground, big shots
It’s a big game on a smallish ground where straight hits will clear the fence far more easily than at the main venues such as Southampton and the Oval. It’s usually a batting-friendly wicket too. This is where Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid put up that memorable triple century stand against Sri Lanka in the 1999 World Cup. The first game at Taunton in this edition of the World Cup, however, was low-scoring as Afghanistan could not handle the New Zealand pacers. But with two evenly-matched sides clashing on Wednesday, we could well see 300-plus scores.
Warner and Smith playing safe
After his IPL fireworks on returning to international cricket from a year’s exile for ball-tampering, David Warner has been uncharacteristically over-cautious in the World Cup. The Aussie opener took his time in chasing a modest score of 207 against Afghanistan, got out early against the West Indies, and made a painstaking 56 in 84 balls against India when the team needed to score at seven an over. Steve Smith, too, has also been playing risk-free cricket. Perhaps the heckling and boos are getting to them.
Starc test for Pakistan batting
After handling the dangerous Jofra Archer of England with aplomb, Pakistan will be confident about taking on the Aussie pace duo of Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins like India did. A good start from left-handed opener Fakhar Zaman will be crucial because he has a high scoring rate, unlike the other Pakistan batsmen in the top five. Zaman will face a stern test from left-armer Starc who can bowl into his body and mix that up with fast swinging yorkers into the toes. The Pakistan opener got a blow on the helmet from Andre Russell of the West Indies in an earlier game. Would his confidence have been shaken up by that?
The game for Pakistan after this one is against arch rivals India at Old Trafford. That will be the daddy of all encounters in the round-robin league as the two sides don’t play all that much cricket against each other these days. This makes the game against Australia, important as it is, a dress rehearsal for Pakistan and gives them a chance to get their act together ahead of the India match.
Rain playing spoilsport
West Indies and Pakistan were unlucky to lose points in rained-out games against weaker sides. So far, the top contenders—India, England, Australia and New Zealand—have been spared. It would be a pity if rain significantly influences the round robin league standings and, as a result, entry into the semi-finals. It’s strange that a World Cup being held in rainy England has no provision for a reserve day—something that was present in the previous World Cup hosted by the country in 1999.
Sumit Chakraberty is the author of 2019 Cricket World Cup Thinking Cap.