Mohali: Australia on Friday knocked Pakistan out of the ICC World Twenty20 with a convincing 21-run victory, setting up a virtual quarterfinal against hosts India to be played in Mohali on Sunday.
Australian players walk from the field after beating Pakistan in the World T20 cricket tournament match between Australia and Pakistan at The Punjab Cricket Stadium Association Stadium in Mohali. Pic/AFP
Captain Steven Smith (61 not out off 43) and Shane Watson (44 not out off 21) hammered 74 off the last 38 balls to take Australia to 193 for four. Pakistani batsmen faltered once again barring a decent effort from Khalid Latif (46 off 41) and Shoaib Malik (40 off 20) to end at 172 for eight.
All-rounder James Faulkner starred with ball, becoming the first Australian to take five wickets in the shortest format. Australia, who have now two wins from three games like India, meet the home team in a match that decides the number two team that goes into the semifinals alongside leaders New Zealand.
The steep chase was another chance for Pakistan batsmen to redeem themselves after they let the team down in the previous two matches. The start was not promising with both the opener back in the hut inside six overs. Ahmed Shehzad lasted only six balls while Sharjeel Khan, who was the lone bright spot against New Zealand, dragged one on to his stumps off Faulkner after smashing six boundaries at the Punjab Cricket Association Stadium.
Umar Akmal and Khalid Latif shared 45 runs for the third wicket before Zampa found the middle stump of Ukmal with a flighted delivery, reducing Pakistan to 85 for three. It was a Herculean task for Latif and Shahid Afridi to pull off. They infused life into the contest with some crisp hitting but the one big partnership that the team needed remained elusive. Afridi, in what could be his final knock before retirement, departed in his usual style, having got out stumped after smashing 14 off 7 balls.
Latif and Shoaib Malik were left to get 69 off the last five over, which proved to be too much in the end.
Earlier, pacer Wahab Riaz provided the early and important wickets of Usman Khawaja (21) and David Warner (9) before Smith and Watson took the Pakistani attack to the cleaners.
Riaz brought back memories of the 2011 World Cup semifinal against India here with a fiery spell. He ran through the stumps of Khawaja, who had welcomed Riaz by pulling him away for a maximum two balls earlier. Then the bowler found the stumps of the dangerous Warner with another fast incoming delivery, leaving Australia at 42 for two. It was a third straight failure for Warner, who came at number three after batting at four in the previous two games.
Australia also changed the opening combination with Aaron Finch joining Khawaja and Watson coming in at number six. The move worked as Watson combined with Smith to punish the Pakistani bowlers, who had a tough day on a good batting surface.
Smith, who had averaged a little more than five against Pakistan in this format, improved his record substantially to bail his team out of a spot of bother. Smith's knock was busy as usual, highlighted by seven fours. His last hit was amazing as he smacked Riaz for four towards the leg side on a ball he met while standing way outside the off-stump.
Watson, who announced his retirement on the eve of the game, was also in full flow. It was no surprise the big- hitting batsman smashed three sixes and four boundaries in his electrifying knock.
Glenn Maxwell also played his part in setting up the big total with an entertaining 30 off 18 balls. Pakistan pacers leaked runs with Mohammad Amir going for close 10 runs per over and Mohammad Sami giving away 53 runs in four overs. The fielding too was sloppy, helping the opposition gain control of the innings.