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Aussie-Eng final prospect excites Clarke

AFP
May 12, 2010 at 10:56pm IST

Saint Lucia: Australia captain Michael Clarke had said meeting England in the final of the World Twenty20 would be an ideal way to set the stage for their upcoming Ashes series.

England face Sri Lanka in the first semi-final of the World Twenty20 at the Beausejour Stadium here on Thursday, with Australia up against defending champions Pakistan at the same venue on Friday.

Australia beat the West Indies by six wickets on Tuesday to maintain their unbeaten record in the tournament.

Australia-England final prospect excites Clarke

Australia will be up against defending champions Pakistan on Friday.

Asked after that match how he would feel about playing England in the final in Barbados on Sunday, Clarke replied: "I'd look forward to that, yeah.”

England hold the Ashes after a 2-1 series win on home soil last year but in November will travel 'Down Under' where they haven't won a Test series since 1986/87.

"If we beat Pakistan and meet England in the final it would be a good start to what is going to be a very good and interesting summer back in Australia as with the Ashes," Clarke said.

"For me right now I've got both eyes on Pakistan and I'll worry about everything else after that.”

Australia haven't won either of the two previous World Twenty20s and last year's edition in England was considered by many of their fans to be a sideshow to the main business of the Ashes.

They were dumped out of that tournament in three days after defeats by the West Indies and Sri Lanka. But it has been a different story in the West Indies with fast bowling trio Dirk Nannes, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait in the wickets and dynamic opener David Warner leading a powerful batting line-up.

"No doubt it has motivated every player, not just throughout this tournament but throughout the last 12 months," Clarke said of Australia's Twenty20 record.

"We weren't performing as well as we would have liked in this form of the game. We've certainly improved over the last 12 months.

"We've had to work very hard to get to the position we're in. Even in this tournament there have been no easy games.

"England, too, have not won the World Twenty20 title, although they pioneered the format in professional senior cricket. But with the likes of batsmen Kevin Pietersen, Eoin Morgan and all-rounder Tim Bresnan to the fore, England have emerged as serious contenders to win this edition in the Caribbean.

"They play a lot of Twenty20 cricket in England and they've always had a lot of talent," Clarke said.

"It's great for English cricket to see them come out and gel a few new players into their squad as well.

"However, he said he thought the pitch at Beausejour, which has less pace than the one at the Kensington Oval in Barbados, which has also been used for Super Eights matches and the venue for the final, would favour Sri Lanka, last year's losing finalists.

"It's going to be a fantastic game on Thursday. Again I think conditions out here are probably going to suit Sri Lanka more than England.

"Who knows what can happen? Both teams are very strong.

"Clarke remains wary of a Pakistan side who seem to be coming into form just at the right time, having been well beaten by 34 runs by Australia in a first round group match at Beausejour.

"This game on Friday is a huge game for us. It's going to be tough. Pakistan have a lot of spinners and they have a lot of class," Clarke said.

"Beating them a week ago is irrelevant. If we beat them, it doesn't bother me who we play in the final.

"We'll keep our fingers crossed. We'd love the trophy."

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