Australia's comprehensive 34-run win over holder Pakistan at the Beausejour Stadium here on Sunday reflected its firepower. This Australian team can make a serious bid for the title.
First, Shane Watson – adjudged Man of the Match for his 49-ball 81– and David Hussey – 53 from 29 deliveries – launched into the Pakistani bowling to propel the score to a daunting 191 after skipper Michael Clarke won the toss.
Then, the hostile trio of blistering pace – Shaun Tait, Dirk Nannes and Mitchell Johnson – made things very hot for the men in the middle.
These are strike bowlers who attack the batsmen even in the shortest form of the game. Tait and Nannes picked three wickets each and Johnson scalped two. Pakistan was dismissed for 157 in this Group `A' clash.
The air-speed of the Australian pace trio tested the Pakistani batsmen even if the surface was sluggish. The Aussie quicks also used their strong shoulders to extract lift and hustle the Pakistanis.
Left-armer Nannes set the ball rolling for the Aussies when he had Kamran Akmal taken at third man in the first over.
Despite a fighting 41 from Misbah-ul-Haq and a typically entertaining 33 from Shahid Afridi, Pakistan was never in the hunt. While the Aussie attack was on target, the swift fielders held to the catches.
Earlier, left-arm paceman Mohammed Aamer sent down a sensational last over. The Australians, wickets in hand, went for runs in the final over and Aammer lifted his bowling.
He scalped three and the precision in his bowling produced two run-outs. Incredibly, the final over was a five-wicket maiden.
Brad Haddin was held at third man by Mohammad Sami off the first ball.
With his second delivery, Aamer yorked Mitchell Johnson. On a hat-trick, he denied Steven Smith's flashing blade with a full length delivery outside off and 'keeper Kamran Akmal beat Michael Hussey's bid to get to the striker's end.
Then, Nannes attempted a bye after Aamer flummoxed him a yorker length ball outside off. Akmal, standing closer to the stumps and giving lesser time for the batsmen to cross over, was on the mark again.
Australia had lost four wickets in as many deliveries.
Then, it was Shaun Tait's turn to miss one. Wisely, the batsmen did not set out for a run. With his final delivery, though, Aamer castled Tait with his line and cut. It was an extraordinary last over in a Twenty20 game.
Despite Aamer's heroics, the innings was dominated by Australia.
Watson whipped up a powerful innings of substance. This right-handed all-rounder, a brutal striker of the ball, launched into the Pakistan spinners. Off-spinner Mohamad Hafeez suffered in particular with Watson unleashing hefty strokes down-the-ground and sweeping ferociously.
The Pakistanis missed an opportunity early - Watson was on 11 when Misbah-ul-Haq put him down at mid-wicket off Hafeez - and paid the price.
Watson, strong and confident off either foot, destroyed the attack.
Mighty strokes boomed in all directions; the ball often soared over the ropes.
Watson appeared set for an hundred when offie Saeed Ajmal, the pick of the Pakistani spinners, prised him out with a quicker delivery.
The aggressive David Warner promised much before miscuing a pull off Mohammed Sami. Australia appeared in some bother when skipper Michael Clarke, attempting a cut off Hafeez, was castled.
David Hussey (53) batted with panache though to support Watson. The partnership took the game away from Pakistan.
Once again, Pakistan suffered after David Hussey – the batsman was put down at long-off off Sami – was given a reprieve.
The batsman waded into Sami in a dramatic 16th over, responding with four sixes. A sledge-hammer straight hit stood out among Hussey's meaty blows.
Despite Aamer's outstanding final over, Pakistan was up against it.
The Aussies, then, closed all escape routes.
D Warner c Umar Akmal b Mohammad Sami 26; S Watson lbw b Saeed Ajmal 81; M Clarke b Mohammad Hafeez 2; D Hussey c Fawad Alam b Saeed Ajmal 53; M Hussey run out 17; C White c Fawad Alam b Saeed Ajmal 9; B Haddin c Mohammad Samib Mohammad Aamer 1; M Johnson b Mohammad Aamer 0; D Smith run out 0; D Nannes not out 0; S Tait b Mohammad Aamer 0
Extras (WD-1, NB-1) 2
Total (all out in 20 overs) 191
Fall of wickets: 1-51, 2-64, 3-162, 4-164, 5-181, 6-191, 7-191, 8-191, 9-191.
Bowling: Mohammad Aamer 4—1—23—3, Mohammad Hafeez 4—0—47—1, Mohammad Sami 4—0—54—1, Shahid Afridi 4—0—33—0, Saeed Ajmal 4—0—34—3.
Kamran Akmal c Smith b Nannes 0; Salman Butt c D Hussey b Tait 15; Mohammad Hafeez c M Hussey b Johnson 12; Umar Akmal c M Hussey b Smith 18; Misbah—ul—Haq c Clarke b Nannes 41; Shahid Afridi b Tait 33; Abdul Razzaq c Warner b Nannes 1; Fawad Alam c Clarke b Johnson 16; Mohammad Aamer c Smith b D Hussey 2; Mohammad Sami not out 5; Saeed Ajmal b Tait 4
Extras (LB-1, WD-8, NB-1) 10
Total (all out in 20 overs) 157
Fall of wickets: 1—1, 2—28, 3—34, 4—70, 5—117, 6—120, 7—132, 8—146, 9—151.
Bowling: D Nannes 4—0—41—3, S Tait 4—0—20—3, M Johnson 4—0—21—2, S Watson 3—0—24—0, D Hussey 2—0—12—1, M Clarke 1—0—14—0, S Smith 2—0—24—1.