The judgement day promised to offer some twists and turns and the first match lived up to it. The match wasn’t very competitive or close but the result surely complicated the equation for India even before their match. Thanks to a spirited performance by Pakistan, South Africa were knocked out even before playing their final super eight game. They somehow justified their chokers tag in every tournament. Australia qualified by virtue of a superior NRR and India were eventually knocked out despite registering a 1 run victory over the Proteas.
Pakistan did not succumb to the pressure and played like a team who was hungry to win. A clinical display and the result of India-South Africa match has sealed Pakistan’s position now in the semis. The bowling came good when it mattered most. Ajmal bowled beautifully and Hafeez put the brakes on the scoring. The young kid Hasan too bowled with a lot of heart, getting rid of the dangerous Watson upfront. 149 on the board and with Watson back in the hut early, Pakistan were in the driver’s seat. The middle order just couldn’t get going. Hussey was the only one who could deal with the spin test, but he too couldn’t really take the attack to them and had to be content by just tapping them away for ones and twos.
The day was set up for Pakistan by a measured partnership between Jamshed and Akmal. Starc was the pick of the bowlers for Australia, claiming 3 wickets but with the spin potential that Pakistan possessed, it was always going to be a tough ask chasing 149. The Australian batting didn’t get going but did just enough in order to progress to the semis.
Here are the quick flicks and the key takeaways from the game:
A rare misfield by the Australians. Jamshed had hit the ball to mid on and Maxwell got his body behind the ball, only to watch it slip through his legs. He got a bad bounce to be fair.
Starc’s contributions gone unnoticed
Watson might have been the highest wicket-taker for Australia in the tournament, but the way Starc has bowled and supported him, speaks a lot about his talent with the ball. He has been economical and has chipped in with wickets too. Australia would want him to strike early in the semis.
Hasan and Jamshed – the ones for the future
Playing against a formidable opposition in a crunch World cup encounter can be intimidating for any youngster, but these two welcomed the challenge and performed when it mattered most. Hasan took out the big man – Watson. Jamshed played a fine knock of 55 from 46 balls when all other batsmen were struggling to move their feet.
Umar Gul – a specialist fielder?
All through the super eights, Pakistan haven’t used the full quota of their premier fast bowler. Against South Africa he came on in the 17th over and today against Australia, in the 18th over. The major reason for this is that Pakistan have been playing to their strengths and to the weakness of the opposition. Against an opposition susceptible to spin, they try and reduce the overs given to pace bowlers.
Watson fails, Australia fails
In many years, this has been the first time that Australia has depended so heavily on a single player. Watson has done it all for them, be it scoring heavily or taking wickets. Today he was unable to trouble the scorers and as a result, Australia found themselves in dire straits. The middle order couldn’t time the ball or even rotate the strike. Australia would be hoping for him to play a blinder in the semi finals because the inexperienced Australian middle order would not have much to offer.