A lion-hearted effort by Pakistan’s bowlers powered the 2009 champions to a 16-run win over Australia in a high-scoring World Twenty20 match in Mirpur on Sunday.
Chasing 192 to clinch the Group Two match, Australia were cruising at 126 for 2 in the 12th over before the Pakistan bowlers turned the match on its head.
Zulfiqar Babar, Umar Gul, Shahid Afridi and Bilawal Bhatti claimed two wickets each as Australia were all out for 175.
Australia’s Glenn Maxwell blasted six sixes in a sizzling 74 and featured in a century-plus stand with the powerful Aaron Finch (65) but their efforts proved in vain.
“Two outstanding innings from Max and Finchy, that’s really good for us but from there you’d love to finish it off,” said Australia’s captain said, George Bailey.
Umar Akmal fell six runs short of his maiden Twenty20 international century as his 94-run blitz powered Pakistan to 191 for 5.
In yesterday’s other game, India inched closer to a semi-final spot after half-centuries from Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli secured a seven-wicket victory over the holders, West Indies.
The 2007 champions restricted their big-hitting West Indian opponents to a below-par 129 for 7 on a slow track and returned to chase down the target with two balls to spare for their second successive victory.
India lost opener Shikhar Dhawan in the first over to a dubious leg-before decision, but Kohli (54) and Sharma (62 not out) featured in a 106-run second-wicket partnership to take the game away from their opposition.
Kohli once again displayed a silken touch, scoring fluently to underline his growing stature as one of the most promising batsmen in the game, and he received solid support from Sharma, who batted until the end.
India, needing five runs to win off 12 balls with eight wickets in hand, adopted a rather slow approach to victory at times, but their win was never in doubt even after they lost a struggling Yuvraj Singh in the final over.
India, who beat the 2009 champions Pakistan on Friday and take on qualifiers Bangladesh this Friday, top Group Two with four points.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain, was particularly pleased that India’s previously misfiring bowling attack had finally struck form.
“I’m really happy how the spinners are bowling,” Dhoni said. “Yes, there is a bit of help for them but at the same time you have to execute your plans well, especially when you’ve some of the big hitters in the opposition.
“I was really happy that our spinners, along with the part-timers and fast bowlers, have done really well, but there is still a long way to go in this tournament.”