In my analysis of the Super 8’s, I identified the nature of the pitches and the ability of the opposition to play our spinners would be crucial in determining whether Pakistan progressed to the semi-finals. These elements are again going to be crucial, so here are my three keys to the game.

1) Pakistan’s Batting v Australia’s Fast Bowling

If this match was being played at Barbados, I would expect Pakistan’s top order to be blown out of the water by the Aussie quicks. This may still happen at St Lucia, but the slowness of the pitch gives our batsmen a better chance.

Key Player – Kamran Akmal: His wicketkeeping may still be atrocious, but senior Akmal’s batting has been a key in Pakistan’s success in T20. His ability to cut, pull and drive the ball make it hard for the opposition to bowl to him, and gives the innings much needed momentum.
Given the spinning all-rounders, I would like to see him play as a specialist batsman, but that debate is for another time.

2) Australia’s Batting v Pakistan’s Spin Bowling

This Australia team has a lot great hitters, but only Michael Clarke is a great player of spin -and he’s mostly been out of form. On the other hand, Pakistan would not have won the world T20 without the bowling of Ajmal and Afridi. It seems the quickish off-spinner who can bowl the doosra, or even the arm ball is the most effective bowler in T20. Apart from Ajmal, see Harbhajan, Vettori and now Randiv of Sri Lanka.

Key Players – Abdur Rahman and Mohammad Hafeez: Ajmal and Afridi will most probably do a good job but these two are going to be crucial if Pakistan are to win this game. Warner, Watson and Cameron White will struggle against quality spin, but if the backups bowl some loose deliveries they will be punished by sixes.

3) Steve Smith

I’m not a big fan but he looked against the West Indies. However, he is young and this will be the most high pressure match he’s played – historically Pakistan don’t play leg spin well, but they need to target him. If sucessful, an attack on Smith would also jumble Australia’s bowling plans for the first time in the tournament.

Key Players – Afridi and Umar Akmal: No stupid shots, no excuses – they need to get the job done against Smith, and then if he’s taken off, Michael Clarke.