Having anchored the Pakistan innings with a superb 54-ball 94, Umar Akmal expressed relief at the 16-run victory over Australia following the loss to India.

“This is the best knock of my career because the kind of stress our team was under after losing the first match made it important to win this,” he said here on Sunday.

“I’m thankful for the free hand the management gave me, to go out and express myself. I played my natural game and I was rewarded with a good score. You can play your best today and you can be the man of the match, the seniors told me. I took that confidence to the middle.”

The right-hander added 96 runs for the third wicket in the company of his older brother Kamran Akmal. Their familiarity with each other helped, he felt. “We are batting together after a long time, but we are used to playing together for Pakistan,” the junior Akmal said.Australia needed 23 runs off the last over, but there was no repeat of the 2010 semifinal, when Michael Hussey helped gather the 18 required.

Akmal denied that the players’ minds went back to that defeat here, especially since Bilawal Bhatti, who bowled the final over, had gone for 30 in his first. “We didn’t think about it at all because as a bowling unit, we are very good. As a batting unit, we get a little bit of praise, but for us to stay in the tournament, it was the bowlers who did the job.

“I don’t think there was any pressure on Bilawal. It was a big match for him as a youngster, but the seniors, especially Umar Gul, and the captain gave him confidence.”


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