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ICC World Cup: Can Pakistan bounce back from India loss?

Pakistan need to shake off the disappointment of their loss to India and illness within their squad when they take on five-time champions Australia on Friday.

Opening batter Abdullah Shafique and fast bowler Shaheen Afridi were among a group of players sick with a fever after the team left Ahmedabad following a seven-wicket loss to India.

Both Shafique and Afridi rejoined the team in practice at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru on Wednesday and are available for selection. Also, opener Fakhar Zaman was on Thursday ruled unavailable for selection until next week due to a knee injury.

However, middle-order batter Saud Shakeel is back in the selection frame. Pakistan made a solid start to the tour nament with wins over Netherlands and Sri Lanka at Hyderabad, a venue where the team got a warm reception.

The crowd was behind Babar Azam-led side when Shafique and Mohammad Rizwan both scored centuries in Pakistan’s record run chase of 345-4.

But Pakistan — touring India for the first time in seven years — faced a vociferous partisan crowd of more than 1,00,000 India supporters at Ahmedabad as they slumped from 155/2 to be all out for 191.

“We have lost to India, but if you see we had also won two matches. We have to match our skills with our game awareness … we can’t say we are behind the world,” said Rizwan, who has scored 248 in three innings.

Babar, the No. 1-ranked batter in ODI cricket, is yet to get his momentum in the tournament. But more than batting it’s the bowlers who haven’t yet got into any sort of rhythm against good batting sides.

Afridi has struggled to pick up early wickets, while Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali have performed in patches. spinners Shadab Khan and Mohammad Nawaz struggled to give Pakistan breakthroughs in the middle overs.

Australia recovered from their opening losses to India and South Africa to get their first points with a victory over Sri Lanka, moving off the bottom of the standings.

Pat Cummins’ squad failed to cross the 200-run mark in heavy losses to India and South Africa in which the Australian skipper managed to get just one wicket. But the Australia captain responded by taking two vital wickets against Sri Lanka before Adam Zampa spun the team to a five – wicket win.

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