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By Abhijit Banare
Mar 23, 2014
A determined fightback from Pakistan spinners saw them register a 16-run victory over Australia in the ICC World T20 2014 Group 2 match. A sensational 74 from 33 balls from Glenn Maxwell had put Australia on course for a win but his dismissal and some accurate bowling from bowlers towards the end bundled out Australia for 175 .
If one thought Umar Akmal’s 54-ball 94 was brilliant enough, Maxwell made Akmal look as ordinary as possible. Four spinners in the Pakistan ranks, three of them were hammered. Saeed Ajmal was clobbered for 25 in two overs — same as Brad Hogg had after two. Yet, some fine captaincy by Mohammad Hafeez to shuffle his bowlers in the end reaped rewards as Ajmal, Afridi and Gul managed to pull things back by bowling some tight overs.
Apart from the brilliant strokes, what made Maxwell more impressive was the situation in which he had hit them. Australia were pushed on the backfoot when left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar removed top two of the many explosive batsmen lined up in the Aussie team — David Warner and Shane Watson. Both of them were done trying to make room and go for an expansive drive, one was bowled, the other caught behind.
At eight for two, Pakistan had done everything right to seal the match. But Maxwell disregarded the reputation of the bowlers and situation of the match to script a brilliant innings which allowed Aaron Finch as well to settle in without coming under the pressure of required rate. Maxwell, known for his big hitting started his onslaught against Zulfiqar Babar with consecutive boundaries. Two sixes followed in the next over from Hafeez. The Pakistan skipper got a touch anxious and brought on Ajmal in the sixth over after Umar Gul too was scored off by Maxwell.
Normally, Ajmal may not pick wickets but is tough to score off too. But Maxwell put the pressure right back with a six and a four in the over. With 57 in the first powerplay, Australia had regained their confidence to resume their quest for 191. But little did they imagine that in the next four overs, Maxwell’s onslaught and Finch’s calculated aggression saw 60 runs being scored off. And the eighth over was certainly demoralising with 30 scored from it. 4,4,6,6,5nb(beamer),4 was the sequence of scoring. Maxwell got to his fifty in just 18 balls.
And to top up the frustration, Ajmal fumbled thrice in the deep, in what was a regulation catch which could have sent back Maxwell. But that didn’t cost much as Afridi found the breakthrough removing Maxwell.
Despite having enough batsmen, the Aussies found it tough to attack against the spinners. Afridi struck one more with the wicket of George Bailey as the required rate kept mounting. Pakistan stuck to the best formula of picking wickets.
The game-changing moment of the match was the 18th over by Ajmal which yielded just one run and fetched the wicket of Finch. Moreover, Pakistan kept the legside field open in the ring luring the batsmen to go for big shot in that direction.
Earlier in the day, Pakistan’s batting found it’s rhythm with the Akmal brothers sharing a partnership of 96 in 51 balls. Umar, similar to Maxwell, defied the situation to turn the innings and put his team ahead. The Australian’s can’t be excused for their sloppy fielding as well with Akmal being dropped by Hogg in the eighth over.
It was evident before the match that Australia were a stronger team on paper than Pakistan. The only trick which was discussed by both sides is Australia’s possible susceptibility against spin, which in hindsight still holds true barring that Maxwell onslaught.
Pakistan 191 for 5 in 20 overs (Kamran Akmal 31, Umar Akmal 94; Nathan Coulter-Nile 2 for 36) beat Australia 175 in 20 overs (Aaron Finch 65, Glenn Maxwell 74; Zulfiqar Babar 2 for 26) by 16 runs.
Man of the Match: Umar Akmal.
(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)
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