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World Cup Fantasy Guru: Quarter-final strategy - Part 2

3.58K   //    19 Mar 2015, 21:52 IST
Mitchell Starc could be too hot for Pakistan 

Australia v Pakistan

So far in this World Cup, the deck at Adelaide has looked as good as it can get for batting. If there has been anything for bowlers, it is towards the end of an innings with a bit of reverse swing coming into play. However, reports suggest that a slightly greener pitch awaits these two teams when they meet each other tomorrow. I don’t really expect it to be a lot different, though. 

Pakistan’s best bet to handle the Australian pace bowlers tomorrow is Umar Akmal, and that says a lot. As I had said in my previous article, David Warner, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson would be my first 4 picks for the match. Glenn Maxwell would come in if Australia bat first. If they bat second though, they would be chasing something around 200, and I don’t really see a role for Maxwell. 

Finch has been in terrible form after hammering England in Australia’s World Cup opener. It is difficult to see him turning it around against a potent pace attack. Michael Clarke, on the other hand, started off looking out of sorts in their last group stage match, against Scotland, as the pacers tried bouncing him out. However, he was looking good otherwise and he did manage a couple of pull shots off the middle towards the later part of the innings; in fact, he got out to a well-timed one.

The Australian captain is expected to roll his arm over too, so if you would like to have one of the two, I would recommend having Clarke in. 

Australia bat first Australia bowl first
D Warner (C) D Warner
S Smith S Smith
G Maxwell M Starc (C)
M Starc M Johnson
M Johnson U Akmal
S Khan P Cummins
S Watson   

Watson will have to face Pakistan’s death bowling, which has been their strongest suit in the tournament. He would have to be exceptionally good to contribute something meaningful, but given the new fielding restrictions and the Pakistan fielders, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens. By the time James Faulkner comes into the attack, I expect the damage to be done by the Australian pacers, so he wouldn’t be amongst the wickets. He will not be required with the bat as well. 

Adelaide has been Sohail Khan’s favourite hunting ground in this World Cup, which makes him my first pick from the Asian side. Misbah can, as usual, help himself to a steady fifty, but I don’t expect more, and that he scores at a slow rate hasn’t helped from the fantasy perspective. Sarfraz Ahmed is quite a talent, but this Australian new ball attack is a different ball game, especially if Pakistan bat under lights.

New Zealand v West Indies

If NZ bat first If NZ bowl first
B McCullum B McCullum
K Williamson (C) K Williamson
C Anderson  D Vettori
D Vettori T Southee
T Southee T Boult (C)
T Boult A Russell
J Holder L Simmons
A Russell J Holder

The deck at Wellington usually becomes good to bat on as the innings progresses. Not that it poses an alarming threat, but there would be enough in the first 10-15 overs for the Kiwi pacers to send the likes of Chris Gayle, Dwayne Smith and Marlon Samuels packing.  And that would bring the Caribbean middle order consisting of Lendl Simmons, Denesh Ramdin and Andre Russell into play.

I have decided to have Russell in, as he could fancy the smaller grounds and the untested Kiwi death bowling unit. Somehow, he manages to be amongst the wickets as well. Of Jason Holder and Jerome Taylor, I would go in with Holder due to his skills with the bat, which would be needed tomorrow as the Caribbean top order wouldn’t withstand the consistent pressure that Kiwis will put them under.

Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson, Trent Boult and Daniel Vettori would be my first four picks for the game. Williamson and Boult are self-explanatory. Introducing spinners early on to get McCullum has become a pattern now, but the Windies don’t have a spinner of that calibre. Their best spinning option is Sulieman Benn and it is not sure whether he will play tomorrow. Whichever way, with the number of substitutions we have, it wouldn’t be a great idea to leave him out. 

The Caribbean batsmen don’t play spin well and that necessitates the inclusion of Vettori. If New Zealand bat first, I would grab Corey Anderson in. If they chase, the top 5 should seal the game comfortably, and as a result, he wouldn't be needed. Tim Southee hasn't been threatening of late, but against players who don't handle swing well, it wouldn't be a good choice to leave him out. 

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