Pakistan beat Australia by four wickets in an entertaining low-scoring ICC Cricket World Cup Group A game at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo.
Chasing only 177 for victory, they crossed the finish line with nine overs to spare, thus ending Australia's unbeaten streak in World Cup cricket that stretched back to May 1999. It was also Pakistan who last beaten them.
Abdul Razzaq finished the match with two sparkling fours off the 41st over and that the match stretched to that point was only down to Brett Lee, who bowled with youthful vigour. He struck early, in the third over, removing opener Mohammad Hafeez for just five. Then he trapped Kamran Akmal LBW for 23 and had Misbah ul Haq caught behind for a duck. He ended up taking four wickets but in between a 54-run partnership between Asad Shafiq and Younus Khan ruined it for Australia.
Shafiq scored a sedate 46 runs off 81 balls after Akmal had started with a flash, scoring five boundaries. Younus provided solidity from the other end with 31 runs off 42 balls. Lee’s double blow in the 23rd over put things in the balance and it was still anybody’s game.
However, Umar Akmal stood tall with an unbeaten 44 off 59 balls, including four fours and one six, guiding the chase home. Lee finished with four for 28 from eight overs but lacked support, underlining Australia’s frailties for the first time.
Earlier in the day, Australia batted first having won the toss. They were looking to target a score of around 250 runs with the pitch at Colombo expected to wear down later in the day. However they could only manage a stuttering 176, their lowest score in the tournament since the 1992 World Cup as Umar Gul finished with 3 for 30 from his 7.4 overs. The damage began early as Umar Gul bowled Shane Watson in the fifth over with a beauty that nipped in. Skipper Ricky Ponting and Brad Haddin added 63 runs for the second wicket but the momentum was never forthcoming. Their score was only 36 runs at the end of the mandatory powerplay.
Ponting’s dismissal sparked a collapse. He edged Mohammad Hafeez when on 19 and keeper Kamran Akmal latched on to a sharp chance. The stumper also caught two other batsmen, shaking off his earlier poor form and it showed in the Australian batting.
Haddin and Michael Clarke had tried resurrecting the innings but the former’s soft dismissal behind the stumps, for 42 runs, was the last straw. They were 90 for three in the 24th then and by the 39th over had been reduced to 147 for seven. Clarke was bowled by Razzaq for 34 and Steven Smith with 25 runs was the other significant contributor. Their plight was judged from the fact that the batting powerplay was only ten balls old when the innings came to an end.
Both sides had already qualified for the quarter-finals but Pakistan will now finish atop Group A and face a game against either Bangladesh, England or the West Indies while Australia could face India or the West Indies depending on how the final group game between India and the West Indies progresses.
© Cricket World 2011
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