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.