Pakistan kickstarted their World Twenty20 campaign with an impressive 16-run victory over Australia in Dhaka. Umar Akmal’s 94 off 54 balls provided the foundation as Pakistan posted 191 for five from their 20 overs and they looked well in control with Australia reduced to eight for two in the first over of their reply.
But Glenn Maxwell hit a stunning 74 off 33 balls in a partnership of 118 with Aaron Finch before a clatter of late wickets saw George Bailey’s men dismissed for 175. The win meant Pakistan bounced back from their seven-wicket to defeat to India on Friday while Australia began their Group 2 campaign with a defeat.
Australia won the toss and decided to bowl and that looked a smart decision as they took two early wickets, with the opener Ahmed Shehzad (five) and Mohammad Hafeez (13) falling cheaply. That brought Akmal to the crease and together with his brother Kamran he helped put on 96 for the third wicket.
Australia were left to rue some poor cricket as Kamran Akmal launched a full toss straight to Doug Bollinger, who put down the easiest of chances. To add insult to injury, Shane Watson’s delivery was a no-ball and Umar Akmal smashed the resulting free hit for a six to bring up the 50 partnership. Kamran eventually fell for 31 off as many balls with David Warner taking a catch on the boundary off Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Shahid Afridi (20 not out) has never been shy of hitting and he and Umar Akmal quickly set about the task of getting Pakistan up towards 200. Umar Akmal attempted to bring up his century in style as he went for another big six off the first ball of the final over but he could only launch Mitchell Starc’s delivery into the hands of Maxwell at long-on.
Warner hit the first ball of the Australia reply for four but was gone with the next, Zulfiqar Babar clean bowling him, and Watson followed on the same total, also falling to Babar. Australia were eight for two as Maxwell came out to join Finch and the pair quickly set about trying to overhaul the Pakistani total.
The former took the leading role in terms of scoring but Finch was more than doing his bit as the pair clobbered Bilawal Bhatti for 30 in the eighth over with Maxwell bringing up his 50. Maxwell hit Saeed Ajmal for six to bring up the century partnership in 51 balls before Finch feathered one behind in the same over but Kamran Akmal spilled the catch.
Ajmal then spilled a catch of his own off Umar Gul as he juggled and eventually dropped Maxwell but the wicket was not long in coming as the Victorian attempted to slog-sweep Afridi and was caught on the boundary by Shehzad.
Australia still looked on course for a victory, needing 46 off the last five overs, but some sensational death bowling from Pakistan snatched it away. First Afridi made a mess of Bailey’s stumps for four and then Ajmal took a very smart catch at deep point off Gul to remove Brad Hodge for two. Finch (65) was next to go as an Ajmal yorker removed his off stump and when Gul bowled Coulter-Nile for a duck, Australia needed 23 off the last over. Starc (three) was then run out as he attempted to get Brad Haddin (eight) on strike and the veteran wicketkeeper clobbered Bhatti to Shoaib Malik before the bowler got his second wicket by bowling Brad Hogg (three).