Australia bounced back from their loss to India as they beat Pakistan by 41 runs at Taunton on Wednesday. Here are our talking points from this fixture- effectively the first full World Cup game this week after the South Africa-West Indies and Bangladesh-Sri Lanka clashes were washed out.
Middle order implosion hurts Pakistan
Chasing 308, Pakistan were purring along at 136/2 at the half way mark, with both Imam Ul Haq and Mohammad Hafeez looking well set. Australian skipper Aaron Finch was forced to turn back to Patrick Cummins to stem the flow of runs. However in the space of fifteen deliveries, the innings simply imploded.
Cummins’ first ball of this spell was a short wide one going down leg. Imam went after it, but only succeeded in edging to wicket keeper Alex Carey and Australia had their breakthrough. In the next over, Finch bowled an absolutely terrible full toss- Hafeez could’ve dispatched it anywhere, but he smashed it straight down Mitch Starc’s throat on the deep mid-wicket boundary. Cummins then got Shoaib Malik to edge one to Carey for a second ball duck and Pakistan’s chase had imploded in the space of two and a half overs.
Kane Richardson, perhaps Australia’s worst pacer on the day, then accounted for the dangerous Asif Ali in the 30th over, reducing Pakistan to 160/6.
The last second DRS review that sealed Pakistan’s fate
Despite their middle order wobbles, Pakistan’s lower order- Hasan Ali and Wahab Riaz in particular, had mounted a spirited fightback in the company of skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed.
The equation had been reduced to 45 to win off 6 overs- very gettable in this age, but with only three wickets in hand. Finch threw the ball to Starc, and the left armer immediately struck, getting Wahab to edge one to Carey. The umpire didn’t give it out and Finch, perhaps not convinced himself, only opted for DRS with one second left on the clock. As luck would have it, Snicko showed an edge and with Starc taking out Mohammad Amir two deliveries later, Pakistan’s slim hopes were extinguished.
Australia lucky to come out on the winning side
Pakistan, like the West Indies before them, would be wondering how they let this one slip. All it needed was some smart cricket. Like it had happened in the Windies game, Cummins and Starc gave Australia crucial breakthroughs just when the opposition thought they were gaining control of the game.
Australia could perhaps count themselves lucky to win these two games, but you make your own luck as a champion side, and Aaron Finch’s men have that in plenty.
Pakistan’s lackluster performance in the field
Pakistan would be ruing their shoddy performance in the field. They had dropped Shadab Khan to accommodate the extra pacer in Shaheen Shah Afridi- however this had an impact on the fielding as well. Babar Azam, who normally fields at slip, moved to Shadab’s position in the circle, which saw Asif Ali deputise at slip. He dropped a sitter off Finch early in the innings, and the Aussie captain made them pay. Australia’s ground fielding and catching was far superior to Pakistan’s- an example being Ali’s wicket itself, when Carey flung himself to his left to take a stunning one handed catch behind the wickets.
David Warner finally comes good
After two sluggish performances against Afghanistan and India, questions were being asked of David Warner’s spot in the XI. However the opener came good here, scoring a fantastic century to lay a platform for a strong finish. Australia’s middle order didn’t quite capitalise on the start given by Finch and Warner, but they had enough on the board to see off Pakistan’s challenge.