Clarke relieved, but worries remain
Michael Clarke has four more matches in charge to hone Australia for the ICC World Twenty20 and despite their victory over Pakistan, he believes there is plenty of work ahead of them. It was only thanks to a blistering spell from Shaun Tait and good support from the rest of the attack that Australia escaped blushes after being dismissed for 127, which was their third-lowest Twenty20 total.
After they crashed out of last year's World Twenty20 in England, the selectors decided to choose more short-format specialists but David Hussey, with an unbeaten 40 from 31 balls, was the only batsman to shine. The debutant Travis Birt will try to forget his ill-advised paddle-sweep dismissal and several others failed to get starts under the pressure applied by Pakistan.
"We were a little bit disappointing [with the bat]," Clarke said. "We would have liked a few more runs. It had a bit of pace in it so it was quite hard to start on. The guys that got in, me included, we had to go on and make the most of that. We played well tonight but we certainly have a lot of improvement in us. With the strength of our batting line-up I'd be very disappointed if you see us bat like that again.
"Amazing performance with the ball and I thought in the field as well. The guys did really well. The Wild Thing [Tait], it's great to have him back in the team and bowling like that he led from the front. Taity got the results tonight but I also thought Dirk [Nannes], Mitchell [Johnson], Watto [Shane Watson] and young Steve Smith on debut did a fantastic job under a lot of pressure."
The legspinner Smith was impressive after his first two overs cost 18. He came back to finish with 2 for 34 and picked up the key wickets of Fawad Alam and Naved-ul-Hasan and confirmed that he is a man to watch, having been a cover player in Australia's Test squad earlier in the season.
"He's got the talent and I think not just in Twenty20," Clarke said. "He's obviously stoked to get his opportunity here but he wants to play Test cricket and one-day cricket for Australia. If he keeps playing like that I think his opportunity will come in time. He needs to keep doing what he's doing. He's got the confidence, he loves getting the ball in his hands and having a bowl."
Smith bowled at a time when Pakistan were capitulating and it was a disappointing end to a tour on which they failed to win a game. They looked set to finish the trip on a high when Kamran Akmal blasted his way to 64 from 33 deliveries but the stand-in captain Shoaib Malik said the team needed Kamran to guide the chase all the way.
"He batted really well," Malik said. "Unfortunately he got out and we were expecting at that time for him to finish the game. It's part of the game. But the way he batted was good to see."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo