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Best of the T20Is: Australia v Pakistan

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Australia_Pakistan_T20I_CricketWith less than a year to go for the 2020 T20 World Cup, the shortest format has assumed significance for most teams of late. Australia, who will be hosting the tournament, are in the midst of a three-match home series with Pakistan, currently the top-ranked T20I side. Since their first meeting in 2007, the two teams have faced off in 20 T20Is, with Australia winning 7 to Pakistan’s 13. Here is a look back at six of the best T20Is played between the two powerhouses.

World T20 Super Eight Stage, Johannesburg, 2007-08

A win for either side in this Super Eight match of the inaugural World T20 would have virtually guaranteed a place in the semifinals, and it was a rejuvenated Pakistan that came up trumps after staring down the barrel at one juncture. Australia posted a competitive 164/7 after being put in to bat, with most of the batsmen chipping in – five of them crossed 24, with Michael Hussey (37) being the highest scorer. Left-arm pacer Sohail Tanvir, of wrong-footed action fame, took 3/31.

Stuart Clark (3/27) then had Pakistan on the ropes as he took the first three wickets to reduce the score to 35/3 in the sixth over. It soon became 46/4 when Salman Butt fell to Mitchell Johnson, leaving Pakistan in dire need of a rescue act. It was the duo of captain Shoaib Malik (52* in 38 balls) and Misbah-ul-Haq (66* in 42) that stood up – they went on to compile a record stand of 119* in a little more than 12 overs to steer their team to a six-wicket win with five balls to spare.

Only T20I, Melbourne, 2009-10

A beleaguered Pakistan came into this one-off encounter searching for their first win of the tour – they had lost all three Tests and all five ODIs. A disciplined bowling effort ensured that Australia were sent tumbling from 54/1 to be bowled out for a below-par 127 in 18.4 overs, with fast bowler Umar Gul (3/20) being the pick of the unit. Pakistan started their chase poorly, as they lost openers Imran Nazir and Imran Farhat within the first three overs to be reduced to 10/2.

Pakistan further slipped to 59/4, even as Kamran Akmal launched a counterattack. Akmal smote 64 in just 33 balls, before being fifth out at 98 to speedster Shaun Tait (3/13) in the 15th over. This was the wicket Australia needed, as the lower order soon wilted under pressure. Kamran’s younger brother Umar Akmal was Pakistan’s last hope, but he was out off the first ball of the final over, with his team still needing ten runs to win. Pakistan were eventually limited to 125/9.

World T20 Semifinal, Gros Islet, 2010

Twelve days after the two teams played each other in a group match, they squared off again at the same venue for the second semifinal – the winner would face England in the summit clash. Pakistan were put into bat, and openers Kamran Akmal (50) and Salman Butt responded with confidence through an 82-run stand within ten overs. Umar Akmal upped the ante with an unbeaten 56 from 35 balls, as Pakistan marched on to 191/6. The last three overs fetched 46 runs.

Mohammad Amir (3/35) strengthened Pakistan’s position by removing openers David Warner and Shane Watson with only 26 runs on the board. The introduction of spin did not help Australia’s cause, as wickets fell at key stages with the asking rate rising. Cameron White hit a breezy 43 after coming in at 62/4, but he too perished to make the score 139/6. The score read 144/7 a ball into the 18th over, and it seemed that the writing was on the wall for the Australians.

However, Pakistan had reckoned without Michael Hussey, who had come in at number seven in the 13th over. With Australia facing an equation of 33 in two overs, Hussey took 16 off Amir in the 19th over. He got back on strike for the second ball of the final over, bowled by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, and duly smashed 6,6,4 and 6 to stun Pakistan. Australia had won by three wickets with a ball to spare, with Hussey (60* in 24 balls including six sixes), having pulled off the coup.

Second T20I, Dubai, 2012

This was the second of a three-match series, and it resulted in an exhilarating contest. Pakistan, holding a 1-0 lead in the series, received an early setback when Imran Nazir was dismissed without scoring in the second over. However, captain Mohammad Hafeez (45) and Nasir Jamshed (45) added 76 for the second wicket, before Kamran Akmal’s rapid 43* pushed the total to 151/4. In response, Australia began well and looked to be control at 79/1 at the ten-over mark.

But Pakistan bounced back with wickets at regular intervals, and it all boiled down to the last over, to be bowled by Abdul Razzaq, with the score at 142/6. Razzaq dismissed captain George Bailey (42) off the first ball, before Pat Cummins hit a six off the penultimate ball to level the scores. With one to win, Cummins was caught by Nazir at mid-off to take the game into a Super Over, in which Pakistan chased down a target of 12 off the last ball to register the series victory.

World T20 Group Stage, Dhaka, 2013-14

Pakistan had lost their opening game against India, and hence needed to beat Australia to keep their hopes flickering. But the start was not exactly convincing, as they slipped to 25/2 in the fifth over. Enter Umar Akmal, who proceeded to produce a game-changing innings. He shared in a third-wicket partnership of 96 in just 8.3 overs with brother Kamran, and was out only in the final over, after achieving a career-best of 94 in 54 balls. His onslaught carried Pakistan to 191/5.

In reply, Australia had a nightmarish first over as Warner and Watson both fell to the left-arm spin of Zulfiqar Babar. What followed was a sensational knock from Glenn Maxwell - batting at number four, he blitzed 74 in just 33 balls. When he was out after a 118-run third-wicket alliance with Aaron Finch (65), Australia needed 66 from 50 balls. The batsmen to follow could not capitalise though, and Australia lost seven wickets for 29 to be bowled out for 175 after 20 overs.

Zimbabwe T20 Tri-Series Final, Harare, 2018

Australia were given an ideal launchpad after winning the toss, what with D’Arcy Short and captain Finch adding 95 for the first wicket inside ten overs. While Finch fell for 47, Short went on to score 76 in 53 balls. Pakistan struck frequently thereafter, and the final total of 183/8 was possibly less than what Australia would have aimed for at the halfway point. Yet, when the off-spin of Glenn Maxwell dealt Pakistan a double blow in the first over, Australia were well on top.

Maxwell got rid of Sahibzada Farhan and Hussain Talat, both for ducks, to leave Pakistan in trouble at 2/2. But Fakhar Zaman was undeterred, and he turned the tables with a rip-roaring display. The left-handed opener first added 45 for the third wicket with captain Sarfraz Ahmed, and then 107 for the fourth wicket with Shoaib Malik (43*) before falling for a 46-ball 91. Pakistan won by six wickets with four balls left, completing their highest successful T20I chase.



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Rustom Deboo is a cricket aficionado and freelance writer from Mumbai. He is an ardent devotee of T...

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