Listless Australia capitulate to spin, still qualify for semi-finals
The unpredictability of the Pakistani cricket team and the difficulty in batting on a slow track without a substantial contribution Shane Watson came to the fore as Australia went down by 32 runs in their last Super Eights game at Colombo.
Chasing 150 for a win on a pitch that saw Pakistan use spinners for 18 of their 20 overs, Australia never got close to a win after the early loss of Watson and Dave Warner.
The untested Australian middle-order faced an uphill battle against the Pakistani spinners on a slowish track and they settled for the chase of 112 that saw them through to the semi-finals. Michael Hussey’s unbeaten 54 saved Australia the blushes.
Pakistan had thrown away wickets in haste against India and came out with a radically different tactic. They waited out the initial overs and despite losing a couple early, looked to consolidate through till the very end.
Nasir Jamshed benefited from an early drop by first slipper Glen Maxwell when he hadn’t even opened his account. By the time he gave his next chance, he had crossed his half-century and put Pakistan on their way to a fighting score.
Having played a couple of rash strokes in his previous games, Jamshed carved his way to a 46-ball 55 that included a couple of sixes. Kamran Akmal, at the other end, made a fighting 32 and pushed Pakistan to their 100 in the 14th over.
Jamshed got out going for his third one off Xavier Doherty, caught at a straightish long-on. Pakistan were 3/108 at that stage and despite losing Akmal two balls later, in a healthy position.
The stage was set for someone to go berserk at the end. Abdul Razzaq, brought back into the side for this very purpose, got going with a second-ball slap to the fence. He scored 22, pushing the total to a stiff one.
Australia would have had an eye on the score of 112 that would have enabled qualification. And when Watson fell to Raza Hasan for his first failure of the tournament and Warner was dismissed by captain Hafeez, Australia had lost two for 19 with a quarter of their overs already completed.
It was playing only catch-up cricket from then on, especially with the middle-order caving in to the Pakistani spinners.
Only Hussey (54 not-out) got to more than 20 and the toughness of the task can be seen from the fact that it was not until the final over that Australia even got to 112.
Rookie left-arm spinner Raza Hasan ended with figures of 2/14 in his four and earned the man-of-the-match award.