Specials – Australia v Pakistan at the World Twenty20

  One of the most crucial games of the 2016 ICC World Twenty20 will unfold tomorrow as Australia and Pakistan lock horns at the PCA Stadium in Mohali. Placed in the tight Group 2 of the Super 10 stage, both the teams need to win this clash in order to remain in contention for a semi-final berth.

  With New Zealand already having progressed to the final four, a three-way battle has arisen between Australia, Pakistan and hosts India for the remaining spot from the group. A loss for Pakistan tomorrow will put an end to their campaign, while a loss for Australia will still give them another chance when they face India at the same venue on Sunday.

  Pakistan, led by soon-to-be-retired Shahid Afridi, come into the match on the back of defeats against India and New Zealand whereas Australia notched a scratchy win over Bangladesh to keep themselves on track after having lost to New Zealand in their opening game. Both sides boast of the required firepower, with the likes of David Warner and Glenn Maxwell up against Mohammed Amir and Wahab Riaz.

  The previous editions of the World T20 have produced their share of gripping battles between these two sides. From Misbah-ul-Haq’s calmness in 2007 to Michael Hussey’s coup in 2010 to the run fest of 2014, this is one fixture which has rarely disappointed cricket fans. As the two sides gear up for their sixth World T20 match against each other, let us look back at the five instances gone by.

Johannesburg, 2007 – Super Eight

  A win for either side in this Super Eight match 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 point. Australia posted 164/7 after being put in, with most of the batsmen chipping in – five of them crossed 24 but none beyond 37. Sohail Tanvir, of awkward 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 and Pakistan needed something special to come back in the game. It was the duo of captain Shoaib Malik (52* off 38 balls) and comeback man Misbah-ul-Haq (66* off 42) that stood up – they went on to stun the Aussies with a record stand of 119* in a little more than 12 overs to see their team to a six-wicket win with five balls to spare.

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     Misbah-ul-Haq during his unbeaten, match-winning innings of 66 against Australia at Johannesburg in the 2007 World T20 (source – gettyimages/espncricinfo.com)

 Gros Islet, 2010 – Group Stage

  Pakistan had seen off Bangladesh and were now facing Australia at St. Lucia’s Beausejour Stadium. After Michael Clarke elected to bat, opener Shane Watson set the tone with a blistering knock of 81 from 49 balls. He shared in a third-wicket partnership of 98 at nearly 12 runs an over with David Hussey, who smashed 53 in just 29 balls. Pakistan pulled things back by grabbing eight wickets in the last four overs as Australia were bowled out for 191. The promising Mohammad Amir bowled neatly in a spell of 3/23.

  Dirk Nannes removed Kamran Akmal off the first ball of the chase and soon Pakistan slipped to 34/3. Misbah-ul-Haq (41) and Shahid Afridi attempted a revival in the middle-order but the total was too tall to overhaul. Pakistan were always behind the asking rate and eventually folded for 157 off the final ball. Shaun Tait (3/20) and Nannes (3/41) were the pick of the bowlers.

Gros Islet, 2010 – Semifinal

  Twelve days later, the teams squared off yet again at the same venue for the second semifinal – the winner would face England in the summit clash. This time the stakes were much higher and the result was a humdinger of a finish. Pakistan were put into bat this time and openers Kamran Akmal (50) and Salman Butt responded with a 82-run stand within ten overs. Umar Akmal upped the ante with an unbeaten 56 from 35 balls as Pakistan reached a solid 191/6. The last three overs fetched 46 runs.

  Mohammed 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 regular wickets fell with the asking rate rising. Cameron White crunched 43 after coming in at 62/4, but he too perished. A ball into the 17th over, the score read 144/7 and it seemed that the writing was on the wall for the Aussies.

  However, Pakistan had reckoned without Michael Hussey, who had come in at number seven in the 13th over. Facing a requirement of 33 in two overs, Hussey took 16 off Amir in the 19th. Saeed Ajmal was enrusted with the final over, 17 to defend. Hussey got back on strike for the second ball and duly smashed 6,6,4 and 6 off the next four balls to leave Pakistan in a daze. Australia had won by three wickets with a ball to spare and Hussey, who scored 60* from 38 balls including six sixes, had done the unthinkable.

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     Michael Hussey was the hero for Australia in their stunning three-wicket win over Pakistan in the 2010 semifinal (source – timesofindia.com)

Colombo, 2012 – Super Eight

  This Super Eight clash at the R. Premadasa Stadium was a must-win match for Pakistan in order to stay alive for the semfinals. Pakistan lost their openers early, but Nasir Jamshed (55) and Kamran Akmal put together a vital 79 for the third wicket before the former was out in the 15th over. Australia kept things tight at the death and restricted the total to 149/6. Mitchell Starc bowled economically, claiming 3/20.

  Pakistan had fielded a spin-heavy attack and only two out of the 20 overs were bowled with pace. Mohammed Hafeez and Raza Hasan jolted the Australians early, stifling them to 19/2 after five overs. Saeed Ajmal (3/17) then took over and save for Michael Hussey, the batsmen went into a shell. The score limped to 45/3 in ten overs and never really recovered. Thanks to Hussey’s unbeaten 54, Australia went past the mark of 112 needed for a semifinal spot. The innings drew to a close at 117/7, giving Pakistan an easy 32-run win.

Mirpur, 2014 – Super Ten

  Pakistan had lost their opening game against India and hence needed to beat Australia to remain safe. But the start was not exactly convincing as they slipped to 25/2 in the fifth over. Enter Umar Akmal at this stage, who proceeded to smash a game-changing innings. He and his brother Kamran put on 96 in just 8.3 overs for the third wicket. Umar was out only in the final over, after scoring a career-best 94 in 54 balls. His onslaught enabled Pakistan to post 191/5.

  In reply, Australia had a horror first over as David Warner and Shane Watson both fell to the left-arm spin of Zulfiqar Babar. What followed was a sensational display from Glenn Maxwell. Coming in at number four, he blitzed 74 in a mere 33 balls, clearing the ropes six times. When he was out after a 118-run alliance with Aaron Finch (65), Australia needed 66 from 50 balls, which became 45 from 30. It proved to be too much for the batsmen to follow and Australia lost 7 for 29 to finish at 175 after 20 overs.

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