Pakistan's Umar Gul (R) celebrates the wicket of Australia's Nathan Coulter-Nile (L) during their ICC World Twenty20 match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka. (AFP Photo)
The start was not so promising for Pakistan. They had lost two of their best batsmen, including skipper Mohammad Hafeez. But then the Akmal brothers came to their rescue. Pakistan needed to win the match to stay alive in the tournament. They went on to win by 16 runs in a humdinger of a game that almost proved that 192 was not quite a safe total in these conditions. What Pakistan’s win has also done is it keeps this group of death in the World T20 alive and kicking.
Umar Akmal’s 94 off 54 was the highlight of Pakistan’s innings. Australia’s Glenn Maxwell threatened to overshadow it with a 33-ball 74, an innings that came under similar pressure with Australia losing both David Warner and Shane Watson in the first over. But what came to the fore at the end of the match was the quality of spinners in the Pakistan lineup.
The sudden slump
When Indian Premier League’s million dollar boy Maxwell was dismissed by Shahid Afridi, Australia needed 66 off 50 balls with seven wickets in hand. Any T20 match would be considered over, and Maxwell, who was bought by Kings XI Punjab from Mumbai Indians for `6 crore, would have thought he had done his job.
But not when the opposition has the likes of Saeed Ajmal and Afridi in their bowling armoury. Pakistan squeezed the batsmen and Australia kept losing wickets. From a very professional chase, it became abject surrender. And even though Australia skipper George Bailey said he was not as disappointed by his team’s batting as he was with their fielding, exposing the weakness of most of their batsmen against spin will give India a lot of heart when the two meet next Sunday.
The very best
Umar Akmal’s innings was the best T20 innings for Pakistan. The 23-year-old showed great maturity playing alongside his brother Kamran and at times had a lot of advice for the latter. “That was very comforting. We were batting together for Pakistan after a long time. But more than the batting, it was our bowling, especially our spinners who have helped us stay alive in the tournament,” said Umar.Brief Scores Pakistan 191/5 in 20 overs (U Akmal 94) bt Australia 175/10 in 20 overs (G Maxwell 74, A Finch 65, Babar 2/26)