Pakistan had hit a bump in the road after losing their first Super Eights match to India at the 2012 T20 Cricket World Cup. But they rebounded to surprise Australia with a 32-run victory, earning them the right to move to the semifinals due to net run rate, with the bonus of watching their bitter rivals India get left behind.
Pakistanâ€™s Saeed Ajmal bowls during a practice session ahead of their Twenty20 World Cup semi-final match against Sri Lanka in Colombo, October 3, 2012.
Pakistan made 149-6 after being sent in to bat in the group two Super Eights match at the Premadasa stadium, before a five-man spin attack restricted Australia to 117-7. Spinning bowler Saeed Ajmal claimed 3-17, but it was 20-year-old Raza Hasan who was declared man of the match for conceding just 14 runs and taking two wickets in four overs of steady left-arm spin.
Both teams ended the Super Eights on four points each, which knocked winless South Africa out of the tournament. â€œI am grateful to see the effort put up by the boys today,â€ said Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez. â€œIt was a big game for us and we needed to be at our best against a side like Australia. â€œOnce we got a good total, we knew we will do well because there was going to be help for the bowlers. Raza Hasan was brilliant, a great find for us.â€
Australia advanced to the semi-finals despite the defeat due to having the best net run-rate in the group. The result left India needing an emphatic win over South Africa later on Tuesday to stop Pakistanâ€™s progress. India did indeed get a win over South Africa, but it was only by one run, sending both teams packing.
Australia, who have never won the World Twenty20 despite taking four World Cup titles in the 50-over game, had breezed through four consecutive matches in the tournament before being halted by Pakistan. â€œPakistan outplayed us,â€ Australian captain George Bailey admitted. â€œThe ball turned a lot more than before and they used spin against us very well. â€œThe challenge for us now will be to get the winning form back in the semis.â€
Veteran Mike Hussey was Australiaâ€™s mainstay with an unbeaten 54 off 47 balls, as none of the other batsmen managed to cross 15 against the rampaging spinners. Australia never looked comfortable after their in-form openers, Shane Watson and David Warner, were dismissed by the fifth over with only 19 runs on the board.
Australia, who needed to make 112 or more to qualify, achieved the target when Hussey cut seamer Umar Gul to the fence off the first ball of the final over. Gulâ€™s two overs at the end were the only ones by a seamer as the spinners shared 18 overs between themselves.
Pakistanâ€™s innings revolved around left-hander Nasir Jamshedâ€™s 55 off 46 balls, which contained four boundaries and two sixes. After the openers were removed by the sixth over, Jamshed put on 79 off 55 balls for the third wicket with Kamran Akmal, who made 32 before both batsmen were dismissed in the space of three deliveries. Abdul Razzaq marked his return to the side in place of Yasir Arafat to make 22 from 17 balls.
Pakistan will next take on the hosts Sri Lanka in Colombo in the first semifinal match. Australia will take on the West Indies the next day in the other semifinal match, with the finals to be held two days after that.