Steve Smith played a captain’s knock by scoring 61 off 43 balls as Australia registered a 21-run victory against Pakistan at Mohali on Friday. With the loss, Pakistan’s hopes of a place in the semi-final also ended after winning just one off their four matches in the group stage.
Chasing a challenging a total of 194, Pakistan got off to a quick start with opener Sharjeel Khan going after the bowling. Nathan Coulter-Nile suffered the major brunt of the left-hander’s bat as Sharjeel smashed the pacer for three boundaries in the second over. But, Ahmed Shehzad fell the next over after trying to copy his opening partner shot for shot. The right-hander top-edged the ball from Hazlewood, and Coulter-Nile at mid-off took a simple catch to send back Shehzad.
Sharjeel Khan also departed shortly after an attempted pull off Faulkner crashed back into the stumps, thanks to an inside edge. Umar Akmal arrived next and looked in a hurry to finish the game as he went after Shane Watson smashing the all-rounder for 17 runs in his first over. Khalid Latif at the other end remained silent as Akmal threw the kitchen sink at everything to push the scoring rate up. But, after a 45-run partnership off 30 balls, Akmal returned to the pavilion, missing a straight one from one
After the fall of Akmal’s wicket, Shahid Afridi arrived in the middle, probably for the last time in international cricket.
Needing 80 in the last six overs, Khalid Latif and Shoaib Malik went after the bowling in the final overs in search of the runs, but the acceleration from the Pakistan side came a bit too late as they ended 22 runs shy off a victory. James Faulkner picked up a flurry of wickets in the final overs to finish with a spell of 5/27.With the loss, Pakistan’s campaign at the World T20 also came to an end with just one win
Earlier, Australian captain Steve Smith won the toss and opted to bat first. Australia replaced Mitchell Marsh and John Hastings with World No.1 batsman in T20 rankings, Aaron Finch and pacer Josh Hazlewood as the Aussies searched for their second win in the tournament. On the other hand, Pakistan brought in Wahab Riaz in place of Mohammad Irfan for their last group game.
Usman Khawaja, fresh from his maiden T20I fifty against Bangladesh, got the Aussies off to a good start by taking the attack to the bowlers. With Mohammad Amir holding one end tight and Mohammad Sami leaking runs from the other, Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi introduced Wahab Riaz in place of Sami in the fourth over. The change made no difference to Khawaja as he pulled a short delivery from Riaz over the deep square leg fielder for the first six of the innings.
But the left-arm pacer made a brilliant comeback two balls later as a full-length delivery from the pacer crashed into Khawaja’s stumps to remove the opener for 21 off 16 balls. The pacer picked up his second in the next over as a 148.1kmph delivery from Riaz broke through Warner’s defence to hit the timber. Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim made it three in the eighth over as Finch also returned to the pavilion in the same way as his predecessors.
With the team in a bit of trouble at 57/3, skipper Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell joined hands and took the team out of the woods with a 62-run partnership for the fourth wicket. Maxwell played a matured innings of 30 off 18 balls, first by taking singles and twos before switching his gear to go into an attacking mode. Although Maxwell fell in the 14
Smith, who was going a run-a-ball till the first twenty runs, upped his ante after the fourteenth over and went after the bowlers, scoring 17 and 15
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