Michael Hussey’s fine half century ensured Australia have made it to the semi-finals with a superior net run-rate in their last super eight match of Group 2. Australia however, lost the game by 32 runs against Pakistan.
Earlier, Pakistan had just made one change as they recalled all-rounder Razzaq instead of Yasir Arafat while Australia had made no changes after their resounding win against chokers Proteas.
Bailey won the toss and had no hesitation in bowling first, given that their openers were in sublime form. Mitchell Starc struck in his first over as he grabbed the wicket of Pakistan’s skipper Hafeez for 1. Subsequently, Pakistan were looking to build a partnership with Nasir Jamsheed at the center. However, Watson soon followed up with the wicket of dangerous Imran Nazir who met the ball in the bottom of the bat and spooned tamely to mid-off, easiest of catches, Nazir wouldn’t want to see a replay of that, Nazir should have hit it straighter.
Then, Nasir Jamsheed and Kamran Akmal put on a splendid partnership of 79 runs before Doherty got rid of Nasir Jamsheed as the latter tried to clobber it over long-on but in the end managed to find Australia’s best field David Warner who held onto a safe catch. Pakistan were nowhere aggressive after the fall of Jamshed’s wicket as the Australia’s bowlers kept chipping away with wickets and did not allow Pakistan batsmen to post a imposing total. However, Razzaq and Umar Akmal ensured that Pakistan posted a commanding score that could be defended by their bowlers. In the end Pakistan managed 149 runs on a slow and turning pitch.
That meant, Australia had to score 112 runs to qualify for the semi-finals and it was indeed going to be a tough task, given that Pakistan have a formidable bowling attack.
Not surprisingly, Hafeez opened with spinners as they bowled well against India. Australia didn’t start the chase confidently as they lost their in-form batsman Shane Watson in the third over for only 15. They also lost David Warner in the very next over as both of them were struck in line to Raza and Hafeez respectively. That meant, Hussey had to bat for the whole 20 overs and the innings had to revolve around him. That’s exactly what happened as Hussey went onto score a superb 54 with other batsman chipping in with useful contributions.
Skipper Bailey looked set with Hussey and if he would have been there for at least 15 overs, then certainly Australia would have fancied their chances. However, Bailey was struck in front of the wicket by Ajmal for 15. With the wickets continuing to fall for Aussies, Wade and Hussey shared a crucial partnership of 45 runs which eventually helped Australia to get past the score that would ensure them a place in semi-final spot.
Pakistan however, should be happy with their performance. They have a formidable bowling attack and the fact is that they have not been able to post a total which would give confidence for their bowlers to defend it. If Pakistan can sort out that, maybe they can hope for good upcoming major tournaments.
Australia on the other hand, have a problem with the middle order. Maxwell, Bailey and White need to show patience to the innings and that’s the only way they can back into form. If the middle order can chip in with runs, then Australia are indeed favourites to win this championship!