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Pakistan, put into bat by Michael Clarke put up their best batting display of the tournament to reach 191 with the Akmal brothers, Umar and Kamran leading the the way with the bat. The Australian strategy of bouncing the opponents didn't pay off and once that happened, there was no back-up plan to cover up. Pakistan had upper-hand till the last five overs or so when Hussey joined in and snatched victory for the Aussies from the jaws of defeat.
A maiden over first up and 3 runs off the second was not the perfect start for Pakistan. But that was the time the openers, Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt, decided to get a move on. Both batsmen got consecutive boundaries in the next two overs to get going. 40 runs at the end of the powerplays was not the best possible start, but importantly for Pakistan they had not lost any wickets and both their openers were looking in good touch.
Pakistan, like the other Asian nations are very good players of spin and the introduction of Steven Smith into the attack was something the openers were definitely looking forward too. A six and a four from Kamran's bat helped Pakistan get 15 off Smith's opening over. That was enough for Clarke to remove Smith and reintroduce pace in the form of Shane Watson. But Kamran had decided to go after the bowlers come what may. A six off the first ball and two boundaries off the last two in Watson's over took him to his half-century off just 32 balls.
Mitchell Johnson finally got the much needed breakthrough for the Aussies when he had Kamran (50) hitting one aerially towards deep extra cover where David Warner took a good low catch. An opening partnership of 82 in 9.4 overs had laid the platform for the rest of the batsmen to go after the bowling. The dismissal of Kamran resulted in Clarke throwing the ball back to Smith. This time though, it was Kamran's opening partner Butt (32) who tried to heave Smith out of the ground. But he wasn't able to get enough power behind the shot and the ball ended up in the square-leg fielder's hands.
Shahid Afridi walked out to the centre to join Umar Akmal. Afridi's (8) stay at the centre though was a short one as an attempted slog off David Hussey went straight up into the air and came down safely into the hands of the keeper. Khalid Latif came out at number 5 and he along with Umar Akmal put their foot on the accelerator. Latif (13) wasn't able to inflict much damage as he failed to clear the mid-off fielder inside the 30-yard circle to give the tournament's top wicket-taker Dirk Nannes his only stick of the day.
Umar Akmal made sure that the fall of wickets did not affect the scoring rate as he spanked three sixes off a Mitchell Johnson over. He brought up his half-century in just 29 deliveries going one up on his elder brother, who was also his no.1 fan in the Pakistan dug out. Shaun Tait had been the pick of the bowlers for Australia and he returned to bowl a tidy final over conceding just 7 runs and effecting two run-outs of Abdul Razzaq (12) and Misbah-ul Haq (0). However, by then most of the damage had already been done. Pakistan had reached 191 for 6 in the end, the second highest total of the tournament, and a match winning score on most days.
Australia's openers, David Warner and Shane Watson, had given the team brisk starts throughout the tournament, but this wasn't to be one of those days as Warner (0) cut one from Mohammad Aamer straight to Umar Akmal at point. Watson and Brad Haddin had no choice but to go after the bowling in the powerplays. They managed to get a couple of boundaries but Watson (16) ran out of luck and a full blooded lofted drive off Aamer was hit straight to long-on.
Haddin and Michael Clarke, in at 4, kept on getting the odd-boundary off the spinners who had been introduced in the powerplays itself. But Haddin (25) didn't last long as came down the track to Abdur Rehman but was beaten all ends up and Kamran Akmal flicked off the bails with ease. Clarke (17) fell in exactly the same manner the very next over off the bowling of Shahid Afridi.
Australia were in deep trouble at 62 for 4 in 9 overs when Cameron White came out to join David Hussey. The duo couldn't waste much time to get a look in and White decided to attack the spinners. Consecutive sixes off Afridi and a couple more off Mohammad Hafeez in the next over helped get the scoreboard going. White was just getting warmed up when Rehman got a leading edge off Hussey (13) that came straight back to him.
White though kept on getting the big shots to keep up whatever momentum the innings had gathered. Australia needed 70 off the last five overs and that was not impossible by any means as Pakistan themselves had managed 73 of their final five overs. Michael Hussey joined in the attack with consecutive sixes once again off Afridi. But to the relief of Pakistan, White who needed to keep going for Australia failed to clear long-on to depart for 43.
But Michael Hussey was in no mood to give in. Steven Smith (5) didn't last long but Hussey kept Australia within striking distance. With 48 needed off the last 3 overs, Hussey managed to get 14 in the 18th over. Two boundaries and four two in the 19th brought the target down to 18 off the last six deliveries. Saeed Ajmal, Pakistan's best man with the ball in the tournament was given the responsibility to take his team through. Mitchell Johnson did his part by giving the strike back to Hussey on the very first delivery. And that's when Hussey exploded. Two huge sixes and a boundary in the next three deliveries brought the Aussies on level terms. And another huge hit over mid-wicket sealed an incredible win for Australia. Hussey finished on 60 off 24 balls, arguably his finest and most valuable T20 innings to date.
Credit should also be given to Cameron White as his innings enabled Hussey to settle down and then go for the final assault. Hussey was the obvious choice for the man-of-the-match award for his performance. Australia's lower middle order came up with the goods on a day when their bowlers had a rare off-day. Pakistan's batsmen had done much more than what was expected of them. But ther bowlers crumbled under pressure at the crucial juncture.
At the end though it'll be the tournament's most consistent teams, England and Australia fighting it out for the title. Both will be making their first appearance in the final and if the history between these teams is anything to go by, then we should be in for a cracker of a finale this Sunday.
Pakistan 191/6 (20 overs, 9.55rpo)
U Akmal 56* (35) Â Â Â Smith 1-23 (2)
K Akmal 50 (34) Â Â Â D Hussey 1-24 (3)
Australia 197/7 (19.5 overs, 9.93rpo)
Hussey 60* (24) Â Â Â Aamer 3-35
White 43 (31) Â Â Â Â Â Rehman 2-33
File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee
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