St Lucia:After their miraculous entry into the last four stage, defending champions Pakistan face the uphill task of halting the Australian juggernaut in the second semi-final of the World Twenty20 here on Friday.
Pakistan were pushed to the brink after their one-run defeat to New Zealand in their second Super Eight match but Shahid Afridi's men bounced back to beat South Africa and with a stroke of luck sneaked into the semi-finals.
Australia, on the other hand, have crushed whosoever have come under their wheels and remains unbeaten in the tournament so far but that reputation won't count when they take on an enigmatic Pakistan on Friday.
For Australia, their battery of lethal fast bowlers have knocked the stuffing out of the opponent batsman, While Pakistan have an array of spinners who have dominated on the slow wickets here.
Shaun Tait, who has been consistently generating speeds of over 145-150 kmph, and Dirk Nannes have been devastating as a fast bowling pair, as much as Shane Watson and David Warner have been with the bat for Australia and they will hold the key to Australia's success on Friday.
For Pakistan, their spinners - Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal - could pose many questions to the free-scoring Aussie batsmen on this deck and it will be interesting to watch who calls the shots in this crucial game. Will it be the Aussies pacemen or the Pakistani spinners.
On a man-to-man basis, Australia are a superior lot. They can bat right up to number nine, which is something Pakistan lack. Their fielding too has been outstanding, something which Shahid Afridi's men can't match.
Given the depth and fire power in his side, Michael Clarke is confident of playing the final at the Kensington Oval in Barbados on May 16.
"I would really love to get to Barbados because that wicket will be really beautiful for our fast bowlers. Our batters like a little bit pace to come on to the bat. So who we play will not bother me. I think this game on Friday is a huge game for us. It's going to be tough for us," said Clarke.
However, Clarke was wary of the defending champions and said they have to be at their best to beat Pakistan on Friday.
"They have a lot of spinners. They have a lot of class. They have guys who have played international cricket for a long time. We need to play like we have played throughout this tournament. We need to be at our best both physically and mentally to play against this team, because they are a very good team," averred Clarke.
His counterpart, Afridi held Australia in high esteem but was confident that Pakistan would make it to the summit clash.
"Australia have now learnt how to play T20 cricket. They have a strong batting and bowling line-up. As we have played them at this ground in the first round, we know the areas where Shane Watson and David Warner play their shots. We have plans for them," said Afridi.
"We will play to our strengths. We have three genuine spinners who could use the conditions here very well. Abdur Rehman and Saeed Ajmal have been bowling well. We are confident that they will perform in this crucial game," added Afridi.
Afridi took comfort from the fact that Pakistan were in a similar position last year from where they went on to win the coveted title in England.
"We were in the same situation in the last World Cup in England. But we went on to win the championship. If we could return home with the title, it will be great victory for the people of Pakistan who love cricket and want to see us play home and away," said Afridi.