Two of the semi-final slots have already been occupied as South Africa and India entered the last 4 stage, after defeating Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in the quarters respectively. For the third spot, it was a battle between co-hosts Australia and Asian giants Pakistan as they locked horns in the third quarter-final at the Adelaide oval.
Batting first, Pakistan were bundled out for 213 in 49.5 overs, thanks to a brilliant bowling display by the Australian fast bowlers. In reply, the Australians chased the target down in 33.5 overs, thereby setting up a clash with India in the 2nd semi-final at Sydney on March 26.
Pakistan innings – Starc and Hazlewood give early breakthroughs for Australia
Misbah-ul-Haq, the Pakistani captain won the toss and elected to bat first. In-form opening pair of Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfaraz Ahmed started cautiously but could not stay on the crease for long. They fell prey to the sheer pace of Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood. In the 5th over, Starc produced a edge off Sarfaraz Ahmed’s blade which was safely pouched at first slip. Shehzad too was dismissed in similar fashion as he was caught at 2nd slip by Michael Clarke, off Hazlewood’s bowling.
Sohail, Misbah build partnership
Pakistan were in a bit of trouble as the scoreboard read 26-2 after 6 overs. Haris Sohail joined hands with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq and added 73 runs for the third wicket. Just when the partnership had started to look good, part-time bowler Glenn Maxwell bagged the wicket of Misbah (34), as he slogged one straight to Aaron Finch at deep mid-wicket.
Australian bowlers pull things back
Misbah’s wicket triggered a mini-collapse as Haris Sohail (41) and Umar Akmal (20) too departed in a space of just 30 runs. From 97-2, Pakistan were reduced to 124-5. Shahid Afridi too departed after scoring a quick 23 off 15 balls. Like Misbah and Umar Akmal, he too picked up the deep mid-wicket fielder and Pakistan were in serious trouble at 158-6.
The tail led by Wahab Riaz, managed to put up some resistance but that was not enough for posting a competitive total. Pakistan were hence bundled out for 213. A seemingly below-par target for the mighty Aussies. Josh Hazlewood was the pick of the bowlers as he finished with figures of 4-35 in 10 overs.
Pakistan bowlers stun Australian top order
As they say, ‘small targets are the toughest to chase’, it was not going to be an easy task for the Australian batsmen with three quality pacers bowling to them. Aaron Finch was sent back early in the 3rd over as he missed an in-swinging delivery from Sohail Khan to be trapped LBW.
David Warner failed to build on a good start yet again as he was caught at third-man off Wahab Riaz’s bowling. The Pakistani pacer struck once again as his short delivery took Michael Clarke by surprise and the skipper ended up fending it to Maqsood at short leg.
Shane Watson, Steve Smith brave Riaz storm
Wahab Riaz targeted new man Shane Watson and fired a handful of unplayable quick bouncers at him. A series of exchanges occurred between the two players as Riaz glared at Watson every time he was beaten. While one end was held tight, Smith and Watson targeted Shahid Afridi and Rahat Ali at the other end, and the support bowlers of Pakistan in turn leaked easy runs.
Steve Smith got to his third consecutive fifty of the tournament and continued to steer his team to victory. The pair added 89 runs for the 4th wicket.
Maxwell, Watson take Australia home
Even with all the bowling firepower in their kitty, Pakistan were unable to prevent the leakage of runs in the middle overs. The flow of runs received a massive boost once Glenn Maxwell came into bat in the 27th over, following Smith’s dismissal to Ehsan Adil.
The momentum generated by the fiery bowling of Wahab Riaz could not be sustained by the other bowlers for any length of time. As a result, the chase proved to be a cakewalk in the end for the Aussies. Maxwell remained unbeaten on 44 off 29 balls, and Shane Watson fought through the chase and remained unbeaten on a score of 64.
Man of the Match – Josh Hazlewood
Brief scores – Australia (216/4 in 33.5 overs, Smith 65, Watson 64*, Wahab Riaz 2/54) beat Pakistan (213 all out in 49.5 overs, Haris Sohail 41, Misbah 34, Hazlewood 4/35)