Michael Hussey celebrates after smashing the winning runs off Saeed Ajmal's bowling in the last over. Hussey's blitzkrieg sealed Australia's spot in the finals © Getty Images
Michael Hussey (right) celebrates after smashing the winning runs off Saeed Ajmal’s bowling in the last over. Hussey’s blitzkrieg sealed Australia’s spot in the finals © Getty Images

Michael Hussey’s innings of 60 off 24 balls in the ICC World T20 2010 semi-final against Pakistan remains one of the greatest knocks in the tournament’s history. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at that blazing innings, at Gros Islet, on May 14, 2010.

It was a game that showed what T20 cricket is all about! A contest that highlighted how a certain passage of play can undo all the good work put in during a game. Pakistan learnt the lesson the hard way! For a major part of the game, they dominated Australia and put their feet in the right place. However, during the last two overs of Australia’s run-chase, Michael Hussey snatched victory from Pakistan’s grasp to script one of the sensational wins in the World T20. And, in the process, they also sailed into the final.

The stage was set at the Beausejour Stadium, Gros Islet. Pakistan had only managed to sneak through to the semi-finals as they beat South Africa in their last Super-Eight game. Meanwhile, Australia had dominated through the competition and came into this contest with confidence on May 14, 2010. Given how Pakistan had made their way through, they were secretly confident about doing well and it reflected in their batting.

The Akmal brothers were on song. Kamran started things off with an innings of 50 off 34 balls. Umar then batted through the innings, scoring 56 off 35 balls with 4 sixes. Pakistan had amassed 191 and the score was going to test the Aussies. Back in 2007, they had failed to chase down a target in that range against India in the semi-final.

And, the start was terrible as the dangerous David Warner was dismissed off the second ball as he cut one straight to Umar Akmal at point. From that point onwards, Australia kept getting a few big hits, but regular wickets kept denting them. The likes of Cameron White and David Hussey batted ahead of Mr.Cricket. Ultimately, Hussey walked in at No. 7, when Australia were 105 for five in the 13th over. White was with him in the centre and Australia pinned their hopes on them. Hussey was expected to work it around and hand the baton to White for he was the feared hitter.

White had actually smashed four sixes before Hussey’s arrival, but then the latter got into the act as Hussey pulled two sixes off Shahid Afridi in the 16th over. At the end of 16 overs, they were 136 for 5, with 56 to get off 24 balls. It was still a tall task considering the fact that Afridi had kept Saeed Ajmal and Mohammad Aamer’s overs under his sleeve. Things got worse as White holed out to the deep in the 17th over and then off the first ball of the 18th, Ajmal had Steven Smith stumped.

Now, it was all on Hussey, with Australia needing 48 off 17 balls. His own score at that stage was 16 off 11 balls. Mitchell Johnson walked out and smashed the first ball for four before handing it over to Hussey. Ajmal then lost his line and strayed on Hussey’s pads who merely picked it around for a huge six. Off the last 2 overs, Australia needed 34. Knowing the fact that Pakistan had to seal it in that over, Aamer was handed the ball.

Hussey has been an epitome of technical perfection. One always saw him playing by the book and stroking it to the boundary. But, smashing those perceptions, he moved across his stumps and guided a full delivery off the horizontal bat through fine-leg. Off the next four deliveries, Hussey stole twos, one pair coming as leg-byes. And then he finished the over in style by pulling one for four through the leg-side.

Michael Hussey dispatches a fuller delivery from Saeed Ajmal into the stands © Getty Images
Michael Hussey dispatches a fuller delivery from Saeed Ajmal into the stands © Getty Images

With 18 to get off the last over, Afridi brought in Ajmal. Abdul Razzaq had two overs in his quota, but Afridi opted for his trump-card. Johnson was on strike and he took a single off the first ball. Hussey on strike, and here’s how the remaining over panned out.

2nd ball: Ajmal lost his line and bowled a half-tracker. Hussey was seeing it like a beachball and pulled it high over the on-side for a huge six. Now, 11 to get off 4 balls.

3rd ball: Ajmal now compensated for his error, but Hussey was ready. It was fuller and Hussey was on his knees, carting it straight over long-on for another six. Fifty for Hussey off 22 balls. 5 to get off 3 balls.

4th ball: The ball was a bit outside the off-stump and although the backward point was in, Hussey gave it all and smashed it behind that fielder for four. Scores were level, Australia couldn’t lose.

5th ball: You need one run to get off the last two, you can simply knock it around. But, Hussey swatted the last one over long-on for six as Australia celebrated.

Pakistan were left shell-shocked. Hussey was the hero for Australia as they ran out to salute him. His innings of 60 off 24 balls remains one of the greatest knocks of World T20.

What happened next?

– Australia lost the final to arch-rivals England by seven wickets in the final at Barbados.

– Hussey’s stocks as a T20 player rose dramatically after this contest. He continued with the Chennai Super Kings for three more seasons, finishing as the leading run-scorer in IPL 2013.

Brief scores:

Pakistan 191 for 6 in 20 overs (Kamran Akmal 50, Umar Akmal 56*) lost to Australia 197 for 7 in 19.5 overs (Cameron White 43; Michael Hussey 60*; Mohammad Aamer 3 for 35, Abdur Rehman 2 for 33) by 3 wickets.

Man of the Match: Michael Hussey.

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(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_44)