Pakistan’s World Twenty20 bid grinds to a halt

Sarfraz Ahmed looks on as Shane Watson hits out during Australia's World T20 win yesterday. Picture: Getty
Sarfraz Ahmed looks on as Shane Watson hits out during Australia's World T20 win yesterday. Picture: Getty
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Australia eliminated 2009 champions Pakistan in a 21-run group-stage win yesterday and at the same time kept alive their own hopes of a first World Twenty20 title.

Captain Steven Smith smashed seven fours in an unbeaten 61 off 43 balls to lead Australia’s charge to an imposing 193-4 after electing to bat in the Group 2 game. Pakistan could manage only 172-8 in reply, undone by James Faulkner’s 5-27.

With New Zealand assured of a semi-final berth from the group with three straight wins, Australia’s next game against India here tomorrow has become a virtual 
quarter-final, with the winner advancing to the last four.

Pakistan needed to win yesterday to remain in contention but fell to a third straight loss and go home.

Smith, who scored only 28 runs in five previous T20s against Pakistan, bound the Australia innings together with two useful partnerships.

He added 62 runs for the fourth wicket with Glenn Maxwell (30 off 18) and then 74 for the unbroken fifth-wicket with Shane Watson (44 not out off 21). Smith and Watson helped Australia score 58 runs in the last four overs to swell the total beyond Pakistan’s comfort.

Smith batted himself in and then dominated the bowling by often taking guard outside the off stump and exposing his stumps to unsettle the bowlers.

He took control in the middle overs as Australia reached the 100-run mark in 12.1 overs, and the 150-run mark in 16.6.

Maxwell struck three fours and one six before holing out to long on off left-arm spinner Imad Wasim, while Watson, a day after announcing this tournament is his international swansong, smashed four fours and three sixes.

For Pakistan, left-arm pace bowler Wahab Riaz dismissed openers Usman Khawaja (21) and David Warner (9) to finish with 2-35, while Wasim took 2-31.

“We gave away too many runs in the end overs,” Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said. “Every time we got a wicket we gave away easy boundaries to ease the pressure on them.”

Pakistan’s batsmen failed to capitalise on good starts and the asking rate kept increasing. Opener Sharjeel Khan made a 19-ball 30 with six fours, and Umar Akmal 32 off 20 with three fours and a six, while Shoaib Malik remained not out on 40.

Sharjeel was dismissed by Faulkner, who came on later for two double strikes in successive overs during mounting pressure for Pakistan. He took four wickets in the space of six deliveries spread over two overs as their batsmen desperately tried big shots.

In yesterday’s other fixture, West Indies stormed into the semi-finals after edging out South Africa by three wickets for theirthird consecutive win in Group 1.

Marlon Samuels hit 43 off 44 balls and led West Indies to 123-7 in 19.4 overs after South Africa struggled on a slow wicket and limped to 122-8 with Quinton de Kock scoring a fighting 47 off 46 balls.

The third straight successful chase after winning the toss puts Windies on six points, with Afghanistan to come today. South Africa will exit if England, who have four points, beat Sri Lanka today.