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ICC World T20: Australia continue to dominate Pakistan, edge closer to Super 8s

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david_hussey.jpgIt was a familiar story if you were a Pakistan fan on Sunday evening at St. Lucia, as Australia registered their 10th straight win against the Asian powerhouse in all formats of the game. The fact that Australia came into this match seeded 9th due to their poor performance in the last edition of the tournament which the top-seeded Pakistan team had won, had little bearing on the contest. Australia were on top right through the match, as they blazed their way to 191 in 19 overs, before an unbelievable final over saw an exceptionally rare 5-wicket maiden to send Pakistan into the break feeling better than they should have. The Australian bowlers also turned up to complete a thoroughly professional job as Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes pocketed 6 wickets between them to ensure an easy win.

Michael Clarke, Australia's Twenty20 captain, and effectively their captain elect for all other forms of the game, won the toss and opted to make first use of the pitch. The first match of the day had seen 360 runs scored, and there were still plenty of runs to be had on this track. Pakistan decided to follow the developing T20 norm of using pace at one end and spin at the other to open the bowling, but it backfired horribly. While Mohammad Aamer was able to run through his first spell of 3 overs for 23 runs, Mohammad Hafeez, a third choice spinner anyway in the line-up was carted for 17 runs in his second over as Shane Watson got stuck into him.

The Australian opening pair of Watson and David Warner (26) took the team past the 50 run mark when the latter fell to a bouncer from Mohammad Sami in the 6th over. Surprisingly Hafeez came back for a third over after the Powerplay was completed, and picked up the big wicket of Clarke for just 2. Watson didn't care at the other end, and smashed a couple of more 6s off Hafeez to send him off with figures of 1-47 from 4 overs. The decision to bowl Hafeez through was made all the more perplexing as a genuine allrounder like Abdul Razzaq failed to get a bowl in the Australian innings.

Watson's new partner David Hussey soon joined in on the action and after both batsmen took turns at hitting Shahid Afridi for 6, Hussey announced himself to the tournament by smashing Sami for 28 runs in the 16th over of the innings. The 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th deliveries all sailed into the crowd, and Pakistan were left to rue some poor misses in the field which gave both marauding batsmen an extra life.

Saeed Ajmal came back well to remove both Watson (81 from 49b) and Hussey (53 from 29b) in the 17th over, and though Pakistan picked up 5 wickets in the last over bowled by Mohammad Aamer - 2 via run outs - the damage had already been done. Aamer and Ajmal both finished with 3 wickets a piece and Australia were bowled out for 191 on the final delivery of the innings.

The 98 run stand for the 3rd wicket between Watson and David Hussey meant Pakistan needed atleast one batsman to go on and make a big score, something their innings failed to deliver. Pakistan's opening pair - Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt - had shared in a century stand in their tournament opener against Bangladesh, but failed to get going today as Akmal fell for a golden duck on the first legitimate delivery of the innings (Nannes had started with a wide). Butt looked sharp and stroked three boundaries - two beautiful looking shots - in Nannes' next over, but fell to Shaun Tait on the second ball of the 4th over for 15. Mitchell Johnson made it number three for the Aussie pace attack picking up Hafeez for 12 as Pakistan slid to 34/3 in just the 5th over.

Umar Akmal (18), like Butt and Hafeez got a start, but failed to capitalize, gifting Michael Hussey his third catch of the innings off leg spinner Steve Smith. Shahid Afridi joined veteran Misbah-ul-Haq out in the middle, and Pakistan got their first partnership of note as the pair added 47 in 5.3 overs. Afridi struck a 6 and three 4s in his breezy innings of 33 before being castled by the returning Shaun Tait, and when Nannes made it a double blow removing the dangerous Abdul Razzaq for 1, Pakistan were done and dusted at 120/6.

Nannes' next over accounted for Misbah for 41 and despite the best efforts of Fawaz Alam (17), batting unbelievably low at no.8, Pakistan fell 34 runs shy of Australia's mammoth score. Australia's fast bowlers accounted for 8 of the 10 wickets to fall, an indication that despite the slow nature of tracks in the West Indies, good bowling of any form will always deliver results.

Australia take on Bangladesh in the final group game on Wednesday, with the minnows still in with an outside shot of making it into the Super 8s should they be able to deliver a resounding win against their more illustrious opponents. Australia with a positive net run rate of 1.7 should be safe, while Pakistan on -0.325 will wait and watch the contest with keen interest in hope that their title defence is not cut short.

Mini Scorecard:

Australia 191 all out (20 overs, 9.55rpo)
Watson 81 (49)             Aamer 3-23
D Hussey 53 (29)          Ajmal 3-34

Pakistan 157 all out (20 overs, 7.85pro)
Misbah 41 (31)           Tait 3-20
Afridi 33 (24)               Nannes 3-41

Also read: West Indies vs. England Match Preview

File Photo Copyright: ICC World T20

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