Clarke takes confidence from big wins
Australia already have one ICC World Twenty20 victory over Pakistan in the bag - but the stakes will be much higher for their second meeting at the Beausejour Stadium in in Gros Islet, St Lucia, tomorrow.
Australia, unseeded at the start of this tournament on account of their blow-out in the previous edition in England last summer, have won each of their five matches this time - all by wide margins.
It is that factor, rather than their 34-run Group A success against Pakistan at this same venue 11 days ago, which underpins captain Michael Clarke’s confidence.
Asked whether the earlier verdict over the champions may provide a psychological edge, Clarke said: “I think it does, but it is more the way we are playing that gives me a lot of confidence.
“We came into this ranked very low, but our performances have been outstanding - and that’s because of the desire from all the boys to work really hard and perform.
“We’ve done that consistently in completely different conditions here and in Barbados, so that’s very exciting.”
Clarke will not be taking Pakistan lightly, however.
“They are a very strong team in any form of the game, but especially T20 - and they’ve shown that to make the semi-finals once again,” he said.
“We take momentum from every win we’ve had. But they’ll come out with a lot to prove on a wicket that will probably suit them a little more than Barbados.”
Clarke rejected the suggestion that Australia may possibly have peaked too soon - and made it clear there is unfinished business for the multiple World Cup winners, who have fallen short in both Twenty20 tournaments so far.
“We are thrilled to be in the semi-finals - but we didn’t come here to make the semi-finals,” he said.
“As I’ve said from the start, I think this is a wonderful squad. We’ve got guys who haven’t had the chance in the middle, but they still turn up and train every day and work their backsides off.
“Then there’s the XI on the field that bust their backsides not only for themselves but also for the support staff, the supporters from Australia and the people at home who have doubted us in this format.”
Pakistan have often over the past two weeks looked like anything but a team about to defend their title.
They scraped through on run-rate with only one Super Eight win but have a chance for a measure of revenge against Australia for a horrendous winter down under - during which they lost all three Test matches and five one-day internationals.
Captain Shahid Afridi believes his team may be about to click at just the right time.
“I think we are feeling good,” he revealed. “We have played well but just missed some opportunities, against England and then just losing [off the last ball] against New Zealand.
“Overall, the guys are very confident after the last game - and I think it will be a great game against Australia.”