S. Dinakar

Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar's efforts go in vain for the defender

Gros Islet (St. Lucia): An inspired Michael Hussey powered Australia to a sensational three-wicket win over Pakistan in the second semifinal of the ICC World Twenty20 here on Friday.

Australia, pursuing a daunting 192, required 18 runs from the last over. Mitchell Johnson took a single off the first delivery off off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Then the left-handed Michael Hussey, getting under the ball for the big hits, struck three sixes and a boundary off the next four deliveries to settle the issue.

Hussey was the hero in the cauldron. He raised his arms in triumph, the Aussies swarmed the arena in jubilation.

Displaying its famous resilience, Australia fought hard. The spirited Michael Hussey, who twice pulled Shahid Afridi for sixes, and the big and strong Cameron White kept their side in the hunt for a phase.

When White (43 off 31) was held at long-off off left-arm paceman Mohammad Aamer, the writing seemed on the wall for the Aussies. But then Hussey wrote his own script.

Australia began disastrously with the in-form southpaw, David Warner, cutting a delivery — not short enough for the stroke — from left-arm paceman Mohammed Aamer into point's hands.

Shane Watson attacked Abdul Razzaq — he blasted a typical straight-drive — but was soon prised out by the talented Aamer. The left-armer's variation in length resulted in the big-hitter being picked up at long-on. Pakistan was gaining a stranglehold on the contest.

A few emphatic strokes notwithstanding, Australia continued to lose its way. Left-arm spinner Abdur Rehman's drift and slight away spin saw the smooth-stroking Brad Haddin being stranded out of the crease even as 'keeper Kamran whipped off the bails.

Australia was in further trouble when skipper Micahel Clarke, stepping out, missed a quicker one from his Pakistani counterpart Shahid Afridi for Kamran to do the rest. Australia was 62 for four in the ninth over.

Power-hitter Cameron White took on Afridi, twice dumping the leg-spinner over the ropes. However, Australia continued to slide. David Hussey popped up a return catch, the delivery from Rehman following him as he attempted to create room.

Earlier, the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, dazzled for Pakistan. Kamran countered fire with fire as he blitzed a 34-ball 50 at the start. His hugely influential 82-run opening partnership in just 9.4 overs with the left-handed Salman Butt (32) laid the platform for the surge in the end overs.

Umar Akmal's (56 not out off 35 balls) onslaught on the Australian bowlers was breathtaking. A free-spirited batsman with stunning bat-speed, Umar picked the length quickly and struck through the line.

He sent left-arm paceman Dirk Nannes over long-on for the maximum. It was a sweet strike with Umar creating room with nimble footwork.

His three sixes off Mitchell Johnson in the 18th over had the Pakistani supporters roaring. The left-arm paceman's short-pitched deliveries were pulled for the maximum by Umar. Then, when Johnson delivered a length ball, he was dumped over mid-wicket.

Australia appeared to have come back when Afridi, attempting a big strike, perished to David Hussey's off-spin. Then, Umar, supported by cameos from Khalid Latif and Abdul Razzaq, pounded the bowling in the end overs.

Latif biffed a six-ball 13, and Razzq, a seven-ball 12. The last five overs fetched Pakistan a rollicking 73 runs even as the famed Aussie fielding wilted.

Earlier, rain and slightly damp conditions in the outfield delayed the start by 30 minutes. Clarke, anticipating possible moisture on the surface, elected to field.

The Australian pacemen, perhaps, erred by striving for speed and lift on this surface. The English pacemen had struck early on Thursday by bowling in the corridor and moving the ball.

Kamran, quick-thinking and fleet-footed, launched into the Aussie attack. He is a fearless customer who dents the bowlers psychologically and disrupts their line.

Pakistan: K. Akmal c Warner b Johnson 50 ( 34b, 6x4, 2x6), S. Butt c Warner b Smith 32 ( 30b, 4x4), U. Akmal (not out) 56 ( 35b, 2x4, 4x6), S. Afridi c Haddin b Hussey 8 ( 9b), K. Latif c Warner b Nannes 13 ( 6b, 1x4, 1x6), A. Razzaq (run out) 12 ( 7b, 1x6), Misbah-ul-Haq (run out) 0 ( 0b); Extras (b-10, lb-1, w-9): 20. Total (for six wkts in 20 overs): 191.

Fall of wickets: 1-82, 2-89, 3-114, 4-145, 5-189, 6-191.

Australia bowling: Nannes 4-1-32-1, Tait 4-0-25-0, Johnson 4-0-37-1, Watson 2-0-26-0, Smith 2-0-23-1, D. Hussey 3-0-24-1, Clarke 1-0-13-0.

Australia: D. Warner c U. Akmal b Aamer 0 ( 2b), S. Watson c Rehman b Aamer 16 ( 9b, 2x4, 1x6), B. Haddin st K. Akmal b Rehman 25 ( 20b, 2x4, 1x6), Clarke st K. Akmal b Afridi 17 ( 19b, 2x4), D. Hussey c & b Rehman 13 ( 9b, 1x6), C. White c Hafeez b Aamer 43 ( 31b, 5x6), M. Hussey (not out) 60 ( 24b, 3x4, 6x6), S. Smith st K. Akmal b Ajmal 5 ( 4b, 1x4), M. Johnson (not out) 5 ( 3b, 1x4); Extras (lb-7, w-5, nb-1): 13. Total (for seven wkts in 19.5 overs): 197.

Fall of wickets: 1-1, 2-26, 3-58, 4-62, 5-105, 6-139, 7-144.

Pakistan bowling: Aamer 4-0-35-3, Razzaq 2-0-22-0, Rehman 4-0-33-2, Ajmal 3.5-0-46-1, Afridi 4-0-34-1, Hafeez 2-0-20-0 .

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