Beaten Australia grateful to Hussey
The ever-reliable Mike Hussey came to the rescue as Australia booked their place in the World Twenty20 semi-finals despite suffering a 32-run defeat to Pakistan, who faced a wait to see if they would qualify from the Super Eight stage.
After seeing the rest of Australia’s top six struggle badly in pursuit of 150 against a five-pronged spin attack, Hussey retained his usual level of composure and contributed 54 not out from 47 balls.
His fine innings ensured George Bailey’s men finished on 117 for seven, having required 112 to remain ahead of Pakistan on net run-rate.
Pakistan were left sweating on the result of the match between India and South Africa, with their great rivals still able to claim second place in Group B by recording a convincing victory over a Proteas side with nothing more than pride to play for.
After Bailey had won the toss, Nasir Jamshed top-scored with 55 and shared 79 with Kamran Akmal to underpin a total of 149 for six.
Jamshed struggled badly early on and was dropped by Glenn Maxwell off Shane Watson on nought. However, the left-hander soon settled down and demonstrated the power that has won him many admirers during the early stages of his international career.
Left-arm paceman Mitchell Starc was comfortably the pick of Australia’s attack with 3-20, yet Pakistan opted to bowl just two overs of seam after their slow bowlers flourished early on.
Shane Watson, comfortably the player of the tournament to date, and opening partner David Warner made eight apiece before being trapped lbw on the sweep by Raza Hasan and Hafeez respectively.
George Bailey also fell leg before, to Saeed Ajmal, who finished with 3-17, and Australia’s sights were soon lowered to the secondary target of 112 as runs proved increasingly hard to come by.
Hafeez and Raza each claimed their second wickets when Cameron White and Glenn Maxwell failed in their attempts to break the shackles, yet Hussey continued to keep the scoreboard ticking over and also slog-swept Shoaib Malik for six.
After Matthew Wade and Pat Cummins had fallen to Ajmal in the penultimate over, Australia’s most experienced batsman cut Umar Gul for four to seal his side’s progression to the next phase. Fittingly, the stroke also brought up Hussey’s fifty from 45 deliveries.
Pakistan also made a poor start with the bat. Hafeez was plumb lbw to Starc’s first delivery, a full inswinger, and Imran Nazir got a leading edge to mid-off from a Watson full-toss.
Watson should have picked up the wicket of Jamshed moments later, only for Maxwell to spill a simple chance at slip.
Jamshed duly cashed in on his reprieve with a series of savage strokes, and Kamran offered able support prior to both men falling in the space of three balls.
Xavier Doherty had the half-centurion caught at long-on, while Kamran picked out extra-cover to become Starc’s second victim.
Starc also struck again at the death, taking out Shahid Afridi’s leg stump with an excellent yorker after the recalled Abdul Razzaq had fallen to Cummins for 22.