Pakistan has beaten Australia before in World Cups and they have the talent to do it again. However Australia has momentum in their favour and they are the mentally the strongest team in this WC.
The weather in Colombo is expected to fluctuate between sunny and showery. It is possible that the match may be reduced in terms of overs. If this happens Pakistan should consider themselves lucky because the lesser the overs the match is reduced to, the more chances for Pakistan to play the match like a T20 match, the format they are most comfortable in.
Pakistan’s strategy is to retain focus on the positives and motivate Kamran Akmal. At the moment there is uncertainty about Akmal’s performance. In my opinion if the team management was sensible they should have tried to play Asad Shafiq or Younis Khan as a wicketkeeper vs Zimbabwe, since Umar Akmal was unavailable. I don’t think it would be a negative strategy to drop Akmal at all, I think in fact the players will feel more comfortable that he is not standing behind the stumps.
Shoaib Akhtar has announced his retirement, whether he plays or not tomorrow or in the forthcoming matches, time will tell but the Pakistan players must try their best for Akhtar’s sake if not for anything else. I am not a fan of Shoaib Akhtar but it would be nice to see his team mates giving him a nice retirement gift by reaching at least the semi final.
Pakistan’s Hafeez, K Akmal, Razzaq and Afridi must play this match like a T20 match. At least 3 of them should bat in the top order. Misbah must bat below Shafiq and Younis. It is important that the aggressive batsmen take their chances from the first ball, otherwise Australian bowlers will definitely take their wickets. If Hafeez and K Akmal have to score 20 or 25 runs apiece, they must score them very quickly. They are not going to score centuries against Australia so there is no point playing defensively and trying to make a big score.
In my opinion by retaining K Akmal in the team Pakistan has already taken the first negative step which might haunt them later. However it is never too late to make amends and the focus has to be to attack from the first ball. Australia is the best team but they can be beaten, the management just needs to think outside the box.
The slight good news for Pakistan is that due to the margin of victory for Sri Lanka against NZ, there is not a great difference between the Net Run Rate of Pakistan and NZ. If the match tomorrow is a close one then there is a chance Pakistan will end up as the 3rd ranking team in the points table which would mean it is most likely to play against India in the QF.