Australia aim for semi-final berth against Pakistan

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Defending champions Australia take on a rejuvinated Pakistan in their final group A match of the Champions Trophy on Wednesday.

Updated: September 29, 2009 11:53 IST
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A semi-final berth well within their grasp despite the wash-out against India, defending champions Australia take on a rejuvinated Pakistan in their final group A match of the Champions Trophy here on Wednesday.

If Australia win, they would book their place in the semi-final no matter what happens in the India-West Indies match.

But if they lose and India win, Ricky Ponting's world champion side has to ensure that its net run rate remains ahead of Mahendra Singh Dhoni's men as the two teams would be tied on three points each in such a scenario.

The Australians have had a reasonably good tournament, wining the opening match against the West Indies before dominating the abandoned game against India.

Ponting has led from the front in both the matches, scoring a couple of crucial fifties and putting together match-saving partnerships in tough conditions.

The biggest concern for the Aussies tomorrow would be all-rounder Shane Watson. Pushed to the opening slot some time ago, the big-hitting right-hander has come a cropper in the tournament so far, managing two ducks.

He has looked uncomfortable facing up to the new ball and it remains to be seen if he would be persisted with at the top on Wednesday.

The other opener Tim Paine has, however, adjusted well to the slot. Paine batted through a testing period in the match against India to make a fifty and stabilize the Australian innings.

Mike Hussey also seems to have rediscovered some of his lost form, against India, by scoring a morale-boosting half century.

The bowlers didn't get a chance last night as the heavy downpour forced abandonment of the match.

But Brett Lee and Co. were not too impressive against the West Indians in the opening match, in which the rag-tag Caribbean team gave a mighty scare to the world champions.

The Centurion track has been a batting paradise and it would take quite an effort from the Aussie bowlers to contain an in-form Pakistani line-up.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have little to be concerned about.

They are already in the semis and would be aiming to get some match practice before the last-four stage begins on October 2.

Skipper Younus Khan, who played with a fractured finger in the crucial win over India, might consider resting himself ahead of the knockout round.

It's a match that would decide the semifinal complexion despite the fact that one of the teams has absolutely nothing at stake.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Callum Ferguson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Peter Siddle, Adam Voges, Shane Watson, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Doug Bollinger.

Pakistan: Younus Khan (capt), Shahid Afridi, Fawad Alam, Iftikhar Anjum, Imran Nazir, Kamran Akmal, Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Aamer, Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Yousuf, Naved-ul-Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul.

Match starts at 1 pm.

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