The Akmal brothers put on 96 off 8.3 overs to help the team to a big score
The Pakistanis were in smiles at the end, the win ultimately a comfortable one. Only half an hour from the close though, the mood in the camp had been rather grim. Glenn Maxwell played a hurricane of an innings at the Sher-e-Bangla stadium on Sunday, nearly setting up victory for Australia in its opening Super 10 fixture.
The 25-year-old, nicknamed ‘The Big Show’, a tag he is desperate to shed, struck a 33-ball-74 to spearhead his side’s pursuit of 192. Aaron Finch (65) and he added 118 in 10.4 overs for the third wicket, as things looked to be going very well.
But Pakistan removed both the batsmen, and as Australia wilted, won the contest by 16 runs. Umar Akmal was declared the Man-of-the-match for his innings of 94 (54b).
The chase got off to a disastrous beginning, David Warner and Shane Watson dismissed in the very first over by the left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar. At 11 for two, the prospects looked grim, when Maxwell intervened. The right-hander is an immensely sweet striker of the ball and he let Pakistan feel the full force of his abilities.
Mohammad Hafeez was violently swung over deep mid-wicket and slog-swept beyond fine-leg.
Shahid Afridi was hit into the second tier, while at the other end Finch greeted Saeed Ajmal with two boundaries.
The worst of the storm, though, struck Pakistan in the eighth over. Bilawal Bhatti was clobbered for 30 runs, six of which came off a delightful swing over long-on by Maxwell, the sort of hit the longest drivers on the PGA Tour will have been proud of.
That shot brought up the batsman’s fifty, the 18-ball-effort equalling the fourth fastest in T20 internationals. However, Maxwell’s exit for 74 (33b, 7x4, 6x6) plunged his side into a slough.
A further 66 runs were needed at that stage, off 50 balls, but the rest of Australia’s batsmen looked all at sea facing Zulfiqar, Afridi and Ajmal. Finch raised spirits briefly but they were dampened when he was dismissed for 65.
It ended in a tame procession of wickets as Pakistan rejoiced.
Earlier, having been inserted, Pakistan made a torpid beginning, like in the game against India. Ahmed Shehzad and Hafeez departed quickly as Pakistan trudged to 36 for two in the Power Play overs.
The advent of Umar Akmal changed the tone thoroughly. Watson was driven with contempt and Nathan Coulter-Nile smashed through the leg-side. Brad Hogg dropped him at deep-midwicket on 22, backpedalling and letting the ball slip through his fingers. It would cause Australia some anguish.
The older Akmal sibling, Kamran, was happy to play second fiddle, contributing a couple of boundaries of his own. Hogg went for 26 from his first two overs, Watson was taken for 14 in the 10th, and Finch’s hapless part-time spin was flogged for 18. The Akmal brothers rattled up 96 runs off 8.3 overs, a stand broken when Kamran was caught on the boundary by Warner.
The wicket of Sohaib Maqsood did nothing to slow Pakistan down; Umar carried on, hitting Mitchell Starc into orbit, while Afridi too had some fun. Umar fell in the final over, holing out to long-on. The last 13 overs realised 149 runs for Pakistan and in the end that proved adequate.