Monday 31 March 2014 

Analysis - Pakistan Move On, Australia Disappoint

Ahmed Shehzad hits out
Ahmed Shehzad - an obvious choice for player of the day as Pakistan thrashed Bangladesh
© REUTERS / Action Images
 

Two uninspired chases in one day and only Pakistan and the West Indies are left standing in the hunt for a second semi-final spot from Group Two.

Playing after a week, Pakistan were awake enough to beat Bangladesh by 50 runs. It was a result that was enough to knock Australia out of the tournament after playing just two matches, and it showed why, when they lost their third to India by a massive 73 runs.

Player of the Day

It was too much to expect Bangladesh to beat Pakistan and provide a ray of hope to Australia. If they were the Netherlands, maybe there was some cause for hope, but not with the hosts’ abysmal record.

And it proved to be so, given how they once again to put up a batting performance that inspired any sense of confidence in them as hosts.

Instead it was heartening to see that the Pakistan team got out of the right side of their beds. They were playing after a full week's rest in this tournament, having beaten Australia seven days before. On this Sunday then they showed up in the right mood, to take on and beat the hosts, and set up an intriguing clash with the West Indies for that semi-final spot.

Ahmed Shehzad played one of those innings that will be remembered for a long time. Well, mainly because it is the first T20I hundred by a Pakistan batsman and those tend to stick around in a statistical manner.

The other reason pertain to the simple fact that the other top-order batsmen around him – Kamran Akmal (9), Mohammad Hafeez (8), and Umar Akmal (0) – all fell before reaching double digits. Despite this little inconvenience, he murdered the Bangladesh bowling as Pakistan crossed the 50-run mark in the sixth over and then the 100-run mark came up in the 13th over.

Shehzad hit 111 runs off 62 balls in all, hitting 10 fours and five sixes. Take into consideration that the other three batsmen contributed only 17 runs between them, and Umar Akmal was only dismissed in the 10th over, with the score on 71.

The conclusion is that Shehzad single-handedly blew Bangladesh away and set up that face-off with the Wet Indies. Pakistan will be hoping for an encore from him now!

Contest of the Day

Australia versus India is a marquee contest any day of the week. On this particular day though, there wasn’t much to play for. India had already qualified for the semi-finals and just needed to test their team in an alternate situation to the ones they had experienced in the three earlier matches. For Australia, it was more about salvaging some pride after Bangladesh redeemed their expectations of not performing a miracle.

Let it be said that with a line-up like one they possess, Australia were always counted among the favourites for this World T20.

As MS Dhoni stated after the game, "they possess so many big-hitters that they could chase down a target like 160 in 15-16 overs, or they could get out quickly."

Much to their dismay, the latter part happened as the Indian bowling upturned this little challenge on its way to the semis with a perfect record.

You would think that the Indian bowling, which has been near-perfect so far faced a tougher prospect against the Australian batting, despite no additional rider attached to the match. But all such assumptions were proven wrong as the contest petered out to be a tame no-contest.  

With the likes of David Warner, Aaron Finch, Shane Watson and Glenn Maxwell in the top four, they were missing someone like a Hashim Amla, Kane Williamson or even Rohit Sharma to hold one end up, atleast for the first seven or eight overs while the others went ballistic. This inadequacy in their otherwise squad brimming with cricketers who could win T20 matches on their own is the sole reason why Australia will be going home early from Bangladesh.

Looking Ahead

Group One

Sri Lanka have finished on top of the group after destroying New Zealand, bowling them out for 60, with South Africa in second place.

Group Two

There is one tasty match on Tuesday when Pakistan take on the West Indies in a virtual quarter-final clash. It is a contest that really signifies that the tournament is in its business end.

Pakistan had a week’s break but have regained their winning composure. The Wet Indies have gotten a huge boost in the angry manner they beat Australia. The former’s bowling and the latter’s batting remain their positive points and it will be a keen match between the two.

Fielding will be a common denominator and could yet decide the winners. However with two unpredictable sides on the field together, only a brave man will make a definitive call.

© Cricket World 2014