Calcutta/Colombo: It’s the seemingly unstoppable force that answers to the name of Shane Watson that will occupy much of Pakistan’s mind space as they go into Tuesday’s must-win game against Australia, in the World T20.
To term Watson’s run in this tournament a purple patch would be an obvious understatement. Watson has easily been the standout player of the competition, with his magical batting and the happy knack of picking up wickets, even if not all of them have come off wicket-taking deliveries.
Four matches played, four Man of the Match awards won. Cricket in general, and T20 cricket in particular, might appear oh-so-easy for Watson now.
Pakistan’s progress at the World T20 will not necessarily be guaranteed if, somehow, they find a way to breach Watson’s defences early on, but if they allow the right-hand batsman to get off to a start, then they will surely be up against them.
Having looked so impressive in the initial phase of the competition, Pakistan have dramatically gone off the boil in the Super Eights. They huffed and puffed their way to victory against South Africa last Friday, thanks in no small measure to the composure shown by Umar Akmal and an extraordinary blitz from Umar Gul.
They were then easily defeated by India on Sunday night, leaving their future in the tournament hanging by a slender thread.
Pakistan must defeat Australia on Tuesday at the R. Premadasa Stadium to give themselves a chance of advancing to the semi-finals, like they have done in each of the three previous World T20s.
Victory will not guarantee them a place in the last four, just as defeat will not necessarily eliminate them.
All that will depend on how the final Group 2 match between India and South Africa pans out.