March 16, 2011
With the four quarter-finalists already decided from Group A, Australia’s aim, as they take on Canada, would be only to register a facile win against the North-American team and storm to the top of the table.
Head to Head: Both sides have faced off against each other only once. Their previous encounter was way back in 1979 World Cup, when Australia completed a comfortable 7-wicket win on June 16th in Birmingham.
Australia: Australia’s unbeaten run in the World Cup was only slightly halted by the rain-marred game against Sri Lanka, which was eventually abandoned with both teams sharing a point each. But their winning run has continued since that, and they are the only team in the World Cup to have not lost a single game yet. However, it must be said that Australia, despite registering 3 wins in their 4 games, have looked rusty, particularly the spin department. While Brett Lee and Shaun Tait have kept the heat on with tremendous spells of bowling at the start, the spinners have not been able to take the momentum forward. Jason Krejza and Steve Smith have taken only three wickets between them so far despite the spin-friendly sub-continental tracks. The Kenyans made a spirited chase of Australia’s 324-6, by putting up a gallant 264/6 and batting out the entire 50 overs. Smith and Krejza along with Michael Clarke, combined 19 wicketless overs in this match, which cost 93 runs. Ponting would be hoping that the spinners come good in the match against Canada and regain the much-needed confidence as the business end of the tournament is fast approaching.
While, Michael Hussey dream return to the Australia’s scheme of things with a composed half-century, and Michael Clarke’s return to form with his 93, are welcome signs for the Australian team, it has to be mentioned that lack of match practice between the Sri Lanka game and the one against Kenya, has led to rustiness for a few batsmen, as admitted by the skipper Ricky Ponting. The form of the Aussie captain and Cameron White has been patchy and the would look at the game against Canada as the ideal platform to hit form ahead of the important match against Pakistan.
Canada: The North American team’s progress has been slightly better in the latter stages of the first round after a woeful start to their World Cup campaign. Following a thumping at the hands of Sri Lanka in the first game, it was a meek surrender to Zimbabwe in Canada’s second match. It was only in their third match that the Canadians made their presence felt in the tournament. They gave Pakistan a scare by bowling them out for 184, and looked on course towards the target before falling off the track. The Canadian middle order, which was to blame for the string of poor performances, finally came good when skipper Ashish Bagai and Jimmy Hansra scored half-centuries to power Canada’s win against Kenya. Despite a loss in their next game against New Zealand, chasing a mammoth 359, the same pair of Bagai and Hansra ensured that they they did not surrender without a fight. The Canadian skipper missed out on a well-deserved hundred, falling on 84 while Hansrs scored an unbeaten 70 as the North American team played out the entire quota of overs.
In the game against Australia, which would be the North American team’s final game of the 2011 World Cup, Canada would be desperately hoping for the openers to contribute to the team’s cause and rely on the bowlers to deliver some key strikes. However, it is easier said than done because it will not be a walk in the park for them, going up against the might of the reigning World Cup champions.
A few of us were rusty and needed some time in the middle, as you would expect after 16 days with not much cricket. There was a bit of experimentation from the spinners but having said that I still would have liked to see them make some breakthroughs for us: Ricky Ponting, referring to the rustiness of the spinners and a few batsmen including himself.
It’s pretty fitting that it is against Australia. I’ve lived all my life there. I was never quite good enough to get a game for them. It will be a great experience to play against them. There’s some guys in the team who I’ve had a fair bit to do with, playing against or coaching. So it would be nice to have a good showing against them: John Davison, having announced his retirement, hopes for a fitting end.