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Pakistan vs Australia: Key players to watch out for

Pakistan and Australia are all set to clash in the 17th match of the ICC World Cup 2019 in Taunton

Pakistan and Australia are all set to clash in the 17th match of the ICC World Cup 2019 in Taunton on Wednesday. 

Pakistan were routed by West Indies in their opening match of the mega event, but bounced back in their typically "unpredictable" fashion to stun hosts England by 14 runs. Their third match, against Sri Lanka, was washed out by rain. 

Australia beat Afghanistan and West Indies but were defeated by India.

As the two teams prepare to lock horns, the stakes are high as both the sides have exceptional players that can shift the momentum at any point during the crucial match. 

Here are some key players to look out for:

PAKISTAN

Mohammad Amir

Mohammad Amir's return to form has been a welcoming sight for the team. Photo: AFP

Although Pakistan have played only two completed matches in the ongoing World Cup so far, fast bowler Mohammad Amir's return to form has been a welcoming sight for the team. The 27-year-old has taken 5 wickets in the two World Cup matches, at an economy of 5.81 along with a bowling average of 18.60.

Even though Pakistan took a severe beating at the hands of the West Indies in their opening fixture, Amir's 3-26 haul gave the team something to be glad about. He went on to take two more wickets in Pakistan's stunning victory against hosts England.

Amir has played 53 ODIs and bagged 65 wickets at an average of 31.75 and economy of 4.82. With his command over England's pitches, there is every reason to hope he will shine on the Taunton pitch. 

Mohammad Hafeez

Mohammad Hafeez was awarded Player of the Match for his match winning performance against England. Photo: AFP

All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez could be formidable against Australia. The ever-green 'Professor' is averaging 50.00 with the bat in this tournament, having stacked 100 runs at a strike rate of 116.27.

His 84 run contribution off 62 balls in Pakistan's second match against England played a crucial role in taking the total to 348-8, earning the 38-year-old Player of the Match title. He also took a wicket in that match, that too of skipper Eoin Morgan. 

Also read: Mohammad Hafeez shows off mustache twirling technique

Hafeez has an overall ODI average of 33.13 from 212 matches. 

Babar Azam

Babar Azam, the number one T20I batsman in the world and ranked number 7 in ICC ODI rankings, is Pakistan’s best batsman in the World Cup and is carrying the bulk of the nation’s expectations. 

The right-handed batsman hit 63 runs off 66 balls against England, playing his role as a much-needed anchor in the middle. He is averaging 42.50 in the tournament at a strike rate of 85.85. 

At just 24 years of age, Azam has contested in 66 ODIs and piled on 2824 runs at a stunning average of 51.34. Australia will be looking out for him. 

AUSTRALIA

Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc bagged 5-46 against West Indies. Photo: AFP

Fast bowler Mitchell Starc has already bagged seven wickets, including a five-wicket haul, from Australia's three matches in the tournament so far. 

He stood out with bowling figures of 5-46 in his side's narrow 15-run win over West Indies. With a bowling average of 21.57 and economy of 5.59 in this World Cup so far, Starc is Australia's primary weapon against the opponent batters. 

The 29-year-old has played in 78 ODIs and taken 152 wickets. His bowling average stands at 21.44 along with an economy of 4.98. Starc may turn the tables if he goes on a wicket-taking spree on the Taunton pitch. 

David Warner

David Warner is averaging 74 with the bat in this tournament. Photo: AFP

Back from a year-long ball tampering ban along with teammate Steve Smith, opener David Warner looked strangely off-colour with an uncharacteristically slow half-century, the slowest of his ODI career in fact (off 77 balls), against India on Sunday. 

He is nevertheless averaging 74 with the bat in this tournament, with a not so impressive strike rate of 71.84. However, it seems just a matter of time before the left-handed batsman is back in his red-hot form but when exactly is that going to happen? That's what the opposition would be watching for very carefully. 

Warner has played 109 matches, scoring 4491 runs at an average of 44.02 and striker rate of 95.47. 

Steve Smith

Steve Smith's innings of 73 off 103 balls against West Indies averted what may have been a shock loss for Australia. Photo: AFP

Former skipper Steve Smith may potentially put Australia on track for a big total. His sure-footed innings of 73 off 103 balls against West Indies averted what may have been a shock loss for Australia by seeing through the pace challenge. 

Smith is averaging 53.33 with the bat in this World Cup at a strike rate of 80.00. 

In the 111 ODIs he has played, he has scored 3591 runs at an average of 42.24 and strike rate of 86.05.