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Confident Pak face formidable Aussies

Cuttack: Forced out of their original base due to security concerns, Pakistan will have to keep off-field issues in the backburner to put up an inspired performance against formidable Australia in their opening Group B match of the ICC Women's World Cup here on Thursday.

Pakistan had to deal with unwarranted tensions even before their arrival here after some political parties asked the organisers not to allow them to participate in the event in the wake of the recent tensions at the Line of Control.

The entire squad is staying at the Club House of the Barabati stadium here after right-wing groups reportedly threatened hoteliers in the twin cities of Bhubaneswar and Cuttack not to house the Pakistani players.

But keeping the off-field matters behind, the Sana Mir-led Pakistani side would be hoping the sub-continental conditions would suit her team of talented bowlers, including spinner Nida Dar and uncapped medium-pacer Diana Baig.

The all-round skills of vice-captain Bismah Maroof will also prove important for the side if the team is to remain in the competition past the group stage. But it won't be easy for the Pakistanis against the 2012 Women’s World Twenty20 champions and five-time World Cup winners Australia, who are favourites to qualify for the Super Six stage from Group B.

Besides Australia, New Zealand, who lifted the trophy back in 2000 and were runner-up in the last Women's World Cup in 2009, will also be front-runners to qualify for the Super Six stage of the event from this group. Pakistan and South Africa qualified for the event after finishing second and fourth in the qualifiers staged in Dhaka last year.

In another match, firm favourites for the title, defending champions England have an easy opener to deal with when they take on tournament minnows Sri Lanka in a Group A match in Mumbai. (Agencies)