Cricket World Cup: Cramped fixtures to spark Pakistan form

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It’s impossible to ignore the irony that, in a tournament equally renowned and chastised for its arduous length, Pakistan find themselves crammed into a fixture pileup.

When Misbah-ul-Haq’s men take the field against the United Arab Emirates at Napier it will be the second of a three game span, played in the space of seven days.

But unlike their Associate opponents, who suffered dearly from playing India three days after Ireland, Pakistan’s familiarity with the rigours of regular cricket shouldn’t affect their surge into form.

The first of their quick-fire Pool B matches brought them their first win of the campaign, beating Zimbabwe by 20 runs, and a victory over UAE will propel them to the cusp of quarter-final qualification. South Africa round off their hectic week.

Ladbrokes rate Pakistan’s chances of triumph at 1/16 in Napier, with the UAE available at 8/1 to claim their first victory of the tournament.

The contest is likely to be far closer than those odds suggest though. Mohammad Tauqir’s men have already worried Zimbabwe and took their encounter with Ireland close to the wire in their previous tournament outings.

With Pakistan still striving for their best form, this certainly has the chance of being the Associate nations’ second win over a Full Member nation in the competition.

That possibility is far less likely in the final match of the day though, as Australia host Afghanistan in Perth.

Michael Clarke’s men, who lost out in a nail-biter against New Zealand last time out, are even more heavily fancied than Pakistan, with their odds of victory a very lopsided 1/66.

A punt on Afghanistan at 16/1 is nowhere near long enough to be tempting. Instead the 5/6 on star batsman Samiullah Shenwari passing 16.5 runs is far more appealing; his scores in the World Cup so far are 42, 38 and 96.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.