Cricket World Cup 2015: Watson revels in latest second chance to steer Australia home

Pakistan 213 Australia 216-4

Shane Watson continued to make the most of his “second life” at the World Cup, surviving a dropped catch and a fiery assault by Pakistan paceman Wahab Riaz to guide Australia to the semi-finals with an impressive half-century in Adelaide yesterday.

Watson was dropped on four in the deep after weathering a barrage of bouncers from Wahab, but finished unbeaten on 64 and teamed up with Glenn Maxwell for a 68-run partnership to close out a dominant six-wicket victory.

The barrel-chested Queenslander was dropped for Australia’s pool match against Afghanistan, an omission some thought might spell the end of his tournament, if not his one-day international career. He was a surprise recall for the co-hosts’ win over Sri Lanka and scored a handy 67 in the match at the Sydney Cricket Ground when pushed down to the middle order.

Watson batted at fifth in the order against Pakistan to continue his late-tournament resurgence and earned special praise from his captain, Michael Clarke. “I’ve said for a long time that a good mix of youth and experience in any sport at the highest level generally has the most success,” Clarke said. “I think we’ve got that through our squad. Yeah, and I think Watto showed that today.

 

“Like I say, he had some luck getting dropped at fine leg, but then was able to find a way to tough that out and then capitalise. More importantly once he got through that spell he played his natural game, hit the ball really well. So yeah, I think his experience certainly helped him today.”

Led by four wickets from recalled paceman Josh Hazlewood, Australia’s seamers were at their intimidating best to restrict Pakistan for 213, setting up the platform for victory.

The semi-final against India on Thursday will promise different conditions on an SCG wicket that traditionally offers turn but was benign in the pool win over Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s captain, Misbah-ul-Haq, questioned whether Australia might suffer there for the lack of a quality front-line spinner.

Clarke, an occasional left-arm tweaker, said his team would make do with part-timer Maxwell and himself, if the specialist Xavier Doherty was not called up. “I don’t think a ball spun in the game we played against Sri Lanka,” Clarke said. “I think it’ll depend on what wicket gets prepared.

“If it does spin, we’ve got spinning options in our squad. I’ve got confidence that whatever XI is selected, we play our best cricket, we give ourselves every chance of winning that game in whatever conditions.”

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