PALLEKELE, Sri Lanka: Ian Chappell, the former Australia captain, wants Pakistan to shine against the Aussies in their final World Cup Pool A game at Colombo’s R Premadasa Stadium on March 19.
It’s not because Chappell is a huge Pakistan supporter. He just wants Australia to get a good work-out before they play in the knock-out stages of the tournament.
“The washout against Sri Lanka, when the match was so evenly poised, must have been a major disappointment to the Australians. They were relying on that game as a tough workout to tune up for the knockout stage, especially after New Zealand provided such meek opposition,” wrote Chappell in his column on Sunday.
“To then have a week off, followed by two gentle affairs against the seriously weak Kenyans and the only slightly stronger Canadians, is not ideal for Ricky Ponting’s men. Those two games will be centre-wicket sessions with the added excitement of an anthem.
“The Australians must now hope the consistency-challenged Pakistan team has one of its good days when the two sides meet. Australia desperately needs a tough encounter before they play their quarter-final,” he stressed.
Chappell believes that the inclusion of Michael Hussey as a replacement for injured pacer Doug Bollinger will serve as a tonic for the defending champion.
“Michael Hussey’s arrival at the World Cup couldn’t have been better timed for an Australian team that remains undefeated whilst enacting a group impersonation of the Invisible Man.
In addition to the undoubted boost his versatility provides to the batting order, Hussey’s unbridled enthusiasm will be just the right tonic for a team that has endured long waits in between matches and then experienced very little challenging cricket,” he wrote.
Chappell has warned top title contenders to be wary of England, who have been sloppy in the group stags so far.
“England has produced two mammoth efforts to defeat South Africa and tie with India, only to stumble like a drunken sailor when confronted by the lesser teams. Their monumental struggle to overcome Netherlands was only surpassed by their gifts to Ireland and Bangladesh,” he wrote.
“For now, it’s their confidence that needs rebuilding after they snatched defeat from the jaws of victory against Bangladesh. England have to beat West Indies to have any chance of reaching the knockout stage. The one thing in their favour is, they’ve played their best cricket against the stronger sides.
“Should England beat West Indies and reach the quarter-finals, beware.
In 1992, Pakistan were playing like drones early in the World Cup and were extremely fortunate to reach the semifinals. They then went on to play brilliant cricket in winning the final against, you guessed it, England. Could be an omen,” Chappell concluded.