Niall O’Brien: Starc can make a mark for the Aussies against Pakistan

It doesn't take much to get Aussie egos swelling like balloons. Maybe Mitch will turn up the gas on Wednesday.

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Australia are yet to hit top gear. India were very, very good on Sunday, but the Aussie’s haven’t played with much of a flourish so far and should’ve lost to the West Indies in their previous game. If not for naive batting at the end of the second innings and some excellent Mitchell Starc bowling, things could look a lot worse for Australia.

Some of their batsmen have found form. Steve Smith looks in good nick. David Warner got fifty, albeit quite slowly. That raised a few questions from some as it put them behind the eightball in the match.

Australia’s David Warner plays a shot during the 2019 Cricket World Cup group stage match between India and Australia at The Oval in London on June 9, 2019. (Photo by Dibyangshu SARKAR / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE (Photo credit should read DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Strewth! Paddy’s Cricket World Cup odds are, err, bonzer mate

India bowled very well to him too. They’ll have known Warner as well as anybody, having played him so often over the last ten years in the IPL. They’d know his game inside-out.

When the end result saw them lose by such a small margin, you’d look back and wonder if they could’ve done something different – could they have been more pro-active?

Warner could’ve been, and I’d expect him to be a lot more aggressive against the West Indies on Wednesday.

Pakistan’s captain Sarfaraz Ahmed attends a press conference at The County Ground in Taunton, southwest England on June 11, 2019, ahead of their 2019 World Cup match against Australia. (Photo by Saeed KHAN / AFP) (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Spin could turn game for underdogs

Pakistan are a very dangerous side. they’ll be very confident here. With Pakistan, you never know which side is going to turn up, but it’s a small ground, some of their players will be very familiar with it from county cricket.

A win for Pakistan would really put the cat among the pigeons in the group, and I wouldn’t be all that surprised if they were to beat Australia, though they are justified favourites.

It’s a very tough game to call. the Aussies are playing consistently, where Pakistan are the opposite, they are up-and-down, but that means they can have a fantastic hour with the ball or bat that’ll win them a game.

Fakhar Zaman is an aggressive left-handed batsman who doesn’t hold back. He’ll set his stall out to attack early. Babar Azam is a fine player too and is in good form, he a good bet. Wahab Riaz is bowling fast, he can be expensive but is picking up wickets.

Shadab Khan though is a very talented bowler. Even though Taunton is a small ground, sometimes the spinners can get some purchase on the wicket so he’ll be very important if Pakistan are to challenge the Australians.

BRISTOL, ENGLAND – JUNE 01: Mitchell Starc of Australia bowls during the Group Stage match of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 between Afghanistan and Australia at Bristol County Ground on June 01, 2019 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)

Streaking Starc’s pace should tell

Australia will still be confident going up against Pakistan though. Their biggest problem could be the weather, as it’s shocking in Bristol right now and that’s not too far from Taunton. In England, you’d be doing very well to get through nine group games without having one washed out, but there’s not much they can do about that.

If they get on the field, Warner will want to come out packing a punch and should be more aggressive than in the previous game. Steve Smith will do what he does, manufacture runs at a decent rate. Usman Khawaja is under a bit of pressure to deliver with people questioning whether he can play at number four or if he should be opening the batting. He’ll be out to prove a point.

Mitchell Starc is bowling quick. He’s the second fastest bowler in the World Cup so far. He snatched the victory from the jaws of defeat for Australia against the Windies, and Pakistan generally don’t play fast bowling very well, so the Aussie quick could be the decisive factor.

PaddyPower.com’s a bunch of flamin’ galahs when it comes to Cricket World Cup odds

Niall’s Pick of the Punts: Mitchell Starc Man of the Match @ 9/1