Pakistan 191-5 (Umar Akmal 94) beat
Australia 175 (Maxwell 74) by 16 runs
ICC World T20 2014 Group 2, Mirpur
In a thrilling Group Two match at Mirpur, Pakistan beat Australia by 16 runs to keep their ICC World Twenty20 hopes alive.
At the Shere Bangla stadium, the match swung from one side to another before the 2009 champions came out on top in the last over of the game.
They scored 191 for five in the allotted 20 overs after which Glenn Maxwell and Aaron Finch went berserk, scoring 118 runs in 64 balls, to put their team back in contention.
Thereafter, Pakistan bowled superbly in the death overs, bowling Australia out for 175 and getting their first points on the board.
Chasing 192, Australia got off to the worst start possible with Zulfiqar Babar (2-26) bowling David Warner (4) and getting Shane Watson (4) caught behind. From there on, it was about what the rest of the batsmen could do and Glenn Maxwell coming in at number four showed that all was not lost.
What followed was a blitzkrieg act as he took on every Pakistan bowler, hitting boundaries and sixes at will.
At the other end, Aaron Finch also got into the act and when they struck Saeed Ajmal for a four and a six in the sixth over of the innings, Pakistan knew they had a fight on their hands. It was more than that actually as the carnage continued.
Shahid Afridi (2-30) was smacked for two sixes in his first over and then came the big one. Bilawal Bhatti (2-36), bowling the eighth over of the innings, was taken apart by Maxwell and Finch, conceding 30 runs as the 100-run mark came in 48 balls.
In doing so, Maxwell also reached his fifty, off only 18 balls, with five fours and five sixes. The chase was now on and it was a matter of how far the two batsmen could carry it. The two slowed down a bit after that and that loss of momentum was crucial because Maxwell fell shortly afterwards, in the 12th over, Afridi getting the big breakthrough. He scored 74 runs off 48 balls, with seven fours and six sixes.
Finch too completed his fifty, off 44 balls, and it was now up to him to see the chase through. But wickets started falling at regular intervals as Pakistan pulled the game back. It started with skipper George Bailey (4) in the 16th over, then Brad Hodge (2) in the 17th over, and finally the death blow, Finch in the 18th over.
He was out for 65 runs off 54 balls, with seven fours and two sixes, bowled by Ajmal (1-33) who was making amends after dropping Maxwell earlier on.
From there, it got tough for Australia to carry the momentum and in end they were bowled out on the last ball of the innings, with Bhatti returning to take two wickets and taking Pakistan across the finish line. Umar Gul (2-29) also took two wickets.
Earlier, Australia won the toss and elected to field first. Pakistan got off to a poor start once again with Ahmed Shahzad (5) gone in the second over. Three overs later, wwith the score on 25, skipper Mohammad Hafeez (13) followed him into the dugout.
Kamran Akmal, at the other end, got off to slow start but in the company of his brother Umar, he got going again. They steadily built a strong partnership as the Australians started fretting in the field.
Perhaps it was the reason for their poor fielding effort on the day, as Brad Hogg (0-29) and Doug Bollinger (1-28) dropped sitters, the latter off a no ball.
Both Akmal brothers benefitted from this sloppy catching and put on a great batting display, piercing the field with boundaries as the frustration of the opposition grew. They put on 96 runs for the third wicket, putting Pakistan in a position to put up a big score.
It was Nathan Coulter-Nile (2-36) who provided the breakthrough in the 13th over, with Kamran caught in the deep. He scored run-a-ball 31 with four fours.
Meanwhile, his brother Umar went on to complete his half-century off 28 balls with five fours and three sixes. He was also carrying the innings till the end, while wickets started falling at the other end in a bid to up the scoring rate.
Sohaib Maqsood (5) fell this way and it was Afridi who got them to a tall score, with 20 unbeaten runs off 11 balls, hitting two fours and one six.
Umar Akmal finally fell in the 20th over, scoring 94 runs off 54 balls, with nine fours and four sixes, as Pakistan equalled their fourth-highest T20I total. Mitchell Starc (1-35) and Shane Watson (1-38) were the other wicket-takers for Australia.
© Cricket World 2014