Australia v Pakistan, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo October 2, 2012

Intense Pakistan lift under pressure

Both Pakistan and India had the chance to qualify for the semi-finals today; the difference was that Pakistan's attack relished the challenge of defending their total
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Both Pakistan and India could have made the semi-finals of the World Twenty20 this evening. Both knew they needed to beat their respective opponents by considerable margins. India knew by exactly how many runs; Pakistan did not have any such prior information. Both sides batted first in their respective games and posted similar totals. MS Dhoni said stopping South Africa 31 runs short of India's 152 was asking too much of his attack. Mohammad Hafeez said once Pakistan had reached 149, he knew they had the attack to defend it. That was the difference between the two teams. Ability, and the resultant self-belief. Who said bowlers don't win you Twenty20 games? Pakistan's did today, overcoming an opponent whose one opener himself had proved sufficient to destroy sides throughout the tournament.

It was a staggering effort from Hafeez and his men. After Australia had swatted aside all four of their previous opponents, that Pakistan would make them struggle for their own semi-final qualification, at one stage, was almost unimaginable. But Pakistan have always delighted in the unimaginable, both good and bad. Don't go by their display against India a couple of nights ago. That was a game played under a completely different kind of pressure, the kind that has, in recent years, only stopped Pakistan sides from playing like Pakistan sides. The kind of pressure on offer today was right up their street. In a way, it forced them to play the way they love to in such must-win situations - start steadily with the bat, build up some momentum, and then attack with the ball.

Once they had got almost 150, one knew the Pakistan bowlers and fielders would be nearly unrecognisable from the match against India. What one wasn't prepared for was the sheer, raw, brutal intensity of it. It seemed to shatter the thick glass wall of the press box and rouse you.

Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul, both men no longer young, threw themselves onto the ball in the field. They were more than mere full-length dives. They were akin to big cats pouncing on prey. Legs pointing to the sky, hands coming down on the ball as their bodies crashed into the turf.

Hafeez, strangely subdued and hesitant against India, was itching to bowl the first delivery of the chase, shouting instructions even before the Australia innings had begun. Raza Hasan, all of 20, but with skills and maturity far more advanced, began with four dot balls to Shane Watson. The suffocation had started. Watson fell in Hasan's next over. Warner followed in Hafeez's next, the first time in the tournament both men had gone cheaply.

"We knew that 70-80% of Australia's strength at the moment is their openers and Mike Hussey," Hafeez said. "We wanted to get two of them early and their middle-order had not been tested in this tournament. We were very sure because in Dubai, our spinners had troubled their middle-order. We knew if we got Watson and Warner, we had the attack that would put them under pressure."

Hafeez, Hasan, Saeed Ajmal, Afridi, Shoaib Malik. The spinners just kept coming at Australia, who were stunned by the juggernaut, and had no answer. When Pakistan batted, Nasir Jamshed was the answer to their need for stability at 29 for 2. How he moved from accumulation to attack, after a few initial jitters, how he changed the momentum of the innings with a full-blooded thump of a pull for six off Pat Cummins, how he combined calm and power again, was another reminder of Jamshed's maturity at 22. Hafeez praised both Jamshed and Hasan.

"I have always had belief as captain in the talent of these two youngsters, and the selectors too backed them," Hafeez said. "Jamshed has shown in ODIs that he is an excellent opener for Pakistan technically and Hasan has always performed his role in domestic cricket. We knew that whenever we brought Hasan into the team and gave him any role, with his talent and his maturity, he would fulfil it."

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • shantanu234 on October 4, 2012, 0:37 GMT

    Very good article Abhishek The way you have written is just superb!!!

  • Meety on October 4, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    Good luck to all 4 remaining teams.

  • Dark.Matter on October 3, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    @sportsforyouth.................gul no doubt is not in form. but did not u see last match against australia. he bowled 2 overs and it looked as he was in better rhythm than his previous performances ..........and dont count his performance against india because he always struggle against them because we all know he along with all team players lose nerves and we have mantle block against india. but he was always good against sl watch his previous performaces ........and seriously that guy yasir arafat did not even deserve his place in squad .he is always avg. and some times below than avg. an easy junk for batsman specially when they try to hit him they can easily do so because of the length he bowl...and also he does not have height advantage because of short height. so be realistic...you can compare him with rana naveed and even rana naveed wins the battle because of his bowling variations.

  • Rexton87 on October 3, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    Whata a fantastic article by Abishek Purohit. He has so much depth subtely and class to describe in beautiful prose what others can only feel., I am going to print your articles and keep, well done.

  • Desihungama on October 3, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    Abhishek - Thanks for the kind words about Pakistan but I don't think India was lagging behind or anything. It was just a tough group and sheer mockery of format that allowed only 2 out of 4 best teams to go through. I hope ICC reconsiders the formatting and allow points from group stage to carry forward. It makes it more interesting for teams to do good.

  • on October 3, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    @Your analysis was interesting enough to do justice to the team it was written for :D From our point of view, that's a tribute. Whatever would cricket do without Pakistan to turn it topsy turvy? On our part, the rivalry with India apart, on purely cricketing grounds, there is no team we enjoy beating more than Australia. It is most satisfying to beat a team who makes it as tough as Australia does!

  • kickassPakistan on October 3, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Drop Imran Nazir,open with Nasir Jamshed and put Asad Shafique in the middle order. Make gul bowl yorkers from 14th onwards(this is what he did in last two world cups very effectively) and inshallah Pakistan will win.

  • playitfair on October 3, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    This is a case of Australia losing the match rather than Pakistan winning it.

  • sukku88 on October 3, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Pak spun a web around tentative Aussie middle order.. Good job..!! All the best for Semi finals..

  • OhPakistan on October 3, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    MR. Purohit : agree with your review of yesterday's games. It was Hafeez who impacted both the games. It was HAFEEZ who put the "CAT AMONG PIGEONS ( in Aus & Ind camps)" by bamboozling the Aussies with 18 overs of spin/strangulation and engineered a ( BIG ) 32 runs wins. The win ( against Aust. ) triggered the PANIC BUTTON in India camp ! IMO, Hafeez single handedly orchestrated the exits of both S.A. & IND. Tremendous captaincy in pressure situation and use of available resources, making use of tit bits players ( except Ajmal ) or rather dead wood (players). Brilliant thinking captain !!!!!! No wonder they call him "The Professor" !

  • shantanu234 on October 4, 2012, 0:37 GMT

    Very good article Abhishek The way you have written is just superb!!!

  • Meety on October 4, 2012, 0:07 GMT

    Good luck to all 4 remaining teams.

  • Dark.Matter on October 3, 2012, 23:37 GMT

    @sportsforyouth.................gul no doubt is not in form. but did not u see last match against australia. he bowled 2 overs and it looked as he was in better rhythm than his previous performances ..........and dont count his performance against india because he always struggle against them because we all know he along with all team players lose nerves and we have mantle block against india. but he was always good against sl watch his previous performaces ........and seriously that guy yasir arafat did not even deserve his place in squad .he is always avg. and some times below than avg. an easy junk for batsman specially when they try to hit him they can easily do so because of the length he bowl...and also he does not have height advantage because of short height. so be realistic...you can compare him with rana naveed and even rana naveed wins the battle because of his bowling variations.

  • Rexton87 on October 3, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    Whata a fantastic article by Abishek Purohit. He has so much depth subtely and class to describe in beautiful prose what others can only feel., I am going to print your articles and keep, well done.

  • Desihungama on October 3, 2012, 17:28 GMT

    Abhishek - Thanks for the kind words about Pakistan but I don't think India was lagging behind or anything. It was just a tough group and sheer mockery of format that allowed only 2 out of 4 best teams to go through. I hope ICC reconsiders the formatting and allow points from group stage to carry forward. It makes it more interesting for teams to do good.

  • on October 3, 2012, 15:54 GMT

    @Your analysis was interesting enough to do justice to the team it was written for :D From our point of view, that's a tribute. Whatever would cricket do without Pakistan to turn it topsy turvy? On our part, the rivalry with India apart, on purely cricketing grounds, there is no team we enjoy beating more than Australia. It is most satisfying to beat a team who makes it as tough as Australia does!

  • kickassPakistan on October 3, 2012, 15:41 GMT

    Drop Imran Nazir,open with Nasir Jamshed and put Asad Shafique in the middle order. Make gul bowl yorkers from 14th onwards(this is what he did in last two world cups very effectively) and inshallah Pakistan will win.

  • playitfair on October 3, 2012, 15:21 GMT

    This is a case of Australia losing the match rather than Pakistan winning it.

  • sukku88 on October 3, 2012, 14:11 GMT

    Pak spun a web around tentative Aussie middle order.. Good job..!! All the best for Semi finals..

  • OhPakistan on October 3, 2012, 14:04 GMT

    MR. Purohit : agree with your review of yesterday's games. It was Hafeez who impacted both the games. It was HAFEEZ who put the "CAT AMONG PIGEONS ( in Aus & Ind camps)" by bamboozling the Aussies with 18 overs of spin/strangulation and engineered a ( BIG ) 32 runs wins. The win ( against Aust. ) triggered the PANIC BUTTON in India camp ! IMO, Hafeez single handedly orchestrated the exits of both S.A. & IND. Tremendous captaincy in pressure situation and use of available resources, making use of tit bits players ( except Ajmal ) or rather dead wood (players). Brilliant thinking captain !!!!!! No wonder they call him "The Professor" !

  • smartguy786 on October 3, 2012, 13:43 GMT

    Well done Pakistan, ALl the best isn the semi finals give your all , then we dont mind you wiining or losing for that matter!

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on October 3, 2012, 13:42 GMT

    Blaze da blunt for Rehman!!

  • Marcio on October 3, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    @Farooq Sameem "Pakistan is due to meet Australia in the finals.I expect a repeat performance." You can expect whatever you want, but be prepared for the liklihood that it won't happen. All this WC we have seen fans making silly predictions, and most are based on personal bias and almost all based on the result of whatever game just ended. It's just as likely to be SL vs WI as AUS vs PAK. And even if it is AUS vs PAK you should remember that in the recent UAE series PAK had a huge win in the first game, but couldn't repeat it in the next two games - a tie (superover win) and then an almighty thrashing. In this T20 WC we have seen teams post huge wins, then get whipped the next game, many times. This is T20. All results remain equally possible at this point. Even the WI, who have been mostly awful, could win. There's no such thing as "the most deserving winner".

  • romirom on October 3, 2012, 13:38 GMT

    only the win of the t20 world cup title will compensate the defeat against india...

  • SaleemSabir on October 3, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    A well written Article Abhishik..... My heart goes to Indian Fans... My 2nd fav team always is India and whenever they paly another team i am automaticaly cheering for India to win and so is the case with almost 80 percnt of Pakistanis and iam sure indians do the same....! well played Kohli and what a come back Youvraj Sigh, he is really Singh is King... brave man to beat Cancer and come back as a champion.... ! i wish he gets fitter and better evreyday and i hope he will replace Dhoni as the next Indian Captain atleast in T20 formats... hard Luck India and for the moment lets enjoy the Semis and i am sure if Pakistan plays Australia in the final there will be One billion extra Pakistani Supporters cheering in INDIA...!

  • Majid_gaffar on October 3, 2012, 13:11 GMT

    Aussies are just one man army.They just could'nt handle the quality spin.Pakistan is going to defeat them again in finals and lift he world cup.Only regret is that India should have been defeated by pakistan.Thanks south africa for playing superbly and eliminating the much hyped Indian ?talent.

  • bouncer1021 on October 3, 2012, 13:09 GMT

    Well written. Aus were surprised that there was a possibility that they would not make 112 and India & Pakistan could advance ahead of them. That made game more interesting. Pakistan played under pressure against India and they forgot how to attack against them but they were more aggressive against SA and AUS. India on the other hand had problem and their strength (batting) did not setup a win. India should have scored a much higher target against SA. Better teams advanced.

  • on October 3, 2012, 12:55 GMT

    Handling pressure my foot. All a team needs to do to beat Australia is get their openers out cheaply. India could not do it and Pakistan did it. Kudos to Pakistan for that. However when you talk about pressure, the litmus test is always a WC match against India and Pakistan failed pathetically in that test. No, they can not take pressure.

  • Mr.A2Z on October 3, 2012, 12:35 GMT

    @Pupun Jena Ok so what? India defended 151 poorly but Pakistan defended 149 superbly. That is the difference between Pak and India bowling

  • on October 3, 2012, 12:08 GMT

    Oh my word! What an article. Thanks Abhishek , you summed it up really well :)

  • on October 3, 2012, 11:59 GMT

    bharti attack is bits n peices. They have a strange formula of packing their lineups with batters instead to make up for bad bowling.

    This isnt a long term thing is it ? Its stupid to believe there arent any quality bowlers in bharat. Its just that they're a batting oriented cricketing nation.

    Just like Pakistan has been a bowler oriented cricketing nation.

  • Syed_imran_abbas on October 3, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Reaching in semis of all WC of T20's show pakistan as the most consistant team in the world. So people using old term of inconsistant is wrong as they have been proving in test side as well.

  • on October 3, 2012, 11:23 GMT

    Good read, Ind had good tourney as well, but we played one very good match against Aussies and we through.. good luck pak for the semis - its gonna be cracker

  • Zahidsaltin on October 3, 2012, 11:13 GMT

    What I enjoyed most and found exceptional, was the two dives by Gul and Afridi

  • kam_uk on October 3, 2012, 10:56 GMT

    Sports4Youth - have you heard the saying "there are lies, dam lies and then there are statistics". Your comment regarding Yasir Arafat exmplifies this. Yasir Arafat is a county trundler and has never performed at the international level.Gul's hasn't performed well thus far but his inswinging yorkers will come good as they did at the end of the Aus innings. Forget Arafat, I doubt we will see him in the Pak team again, he will not be missed.

  • I.Aziz on October 3, 2012, 10:34 GMT

    Ok @Pupun Jena you might be right, so what is the point you are trying to make here?

  • on October 3, 2012, 10:27 GMT

    It was indeed a majestic performance by Pakistani bowlers to have triumphed over the strong Australian side.Having lost to India badly it was reckoned that Pakistan would not stand a chance against Australia who are billed to win the tournament.Pakistan could muster only 149 runs.For a batting line up that comprised Watson,Warner and Mike Hussey it was thought to be a simple task to overhaul that total.The Pakistan spin trio Ajmal,Hassan and Hafeez lived up io the task of subduing the belligerent Aussies batsmen and winning the match much to the delight of Pakistani fans and to the disgust of India.It was a match won by Pakistani spinners backed up by unusually good fielding.Pakistan is due to meet Australia in the finals.I expect a repeat performance.

  • Imad_K on October 3, 2012, 10:10 GMT

    The reality is that in the Super8's Pakistan only deserved to win this game against Australia from a batting perspective. For example - this is a point I have been writing for years on Cricinfo "It's the same old story with Pakistan - chasing wide balls, getting run out, trying to hit everything for a boundary, wrong shot selection, losing wickets at crucial times - 20/3, 30/3 then the game starts, relying on 2/3 batsmen to score runs." So, if I can understand that why can't the Pakistani batsmen and coaches understand that. In this match I was hoping Pakistan would get to around 70 for 2 off the 10 overs which is roughly what they got. Even though they had an ok last 10 overs they still managed to get 148. Why don't they just bat sensibly and build the foundation instead to trying to hit everything out the ground and being 30/3, 50/5 off 3 overs. Just get to 70/80 runs for 2/3 wickets down max off the 10 overs - you can do that in singles instead of throwing wickets away earlier on.

  • haq33 on October 3, 2012, 9:57 GMT

    I hope people stop all the talk of dropping afridi. He is a giant in the field and a giant of the t20 game when it comes to slowing down batsmen. Let him fail with the bat, so what.

  • on October 3, 2012, 9:53 GMT

    @ Papun Jena: And your point with respect to this article is?

  • Sports4Youth on October 3, 2012, 8:43 GMT

    Stats --> http://stats.espncricinfo.com/icc-world-twenty20-2012/engine/records/bowling/best_career_bowling_average.html?id=6856;team=7;type=tournament

  • Sports4Youth on October 3, 2012, 8:42 GMT

    Umar Gul has taken only 2 wickets at an avg of 71, economy 10.14, he is the worst bowler in the Pakistani Attack, Y.Arafat has taken 5 wicks, avg - 14.16, eco -9.12 , Why is Afrafat out and Gul in ? Stats --> http://stats.espncricinfo.com/icc-world-twenty20-2012/engine/records/bowling/best_career_bowling_average.html?id=6856;team=7;type=tournament

  • on October 3, 2012, 8:22 GMT

    well done team pakistan INSHALLAH pakistan will won the world cup

  • PakCricSpin on October 3, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    What an awesome showing by Pakistan! For me reaching the Semi Finals was the main goal. From here onwards, its anybody's game on anybody's day.

    Great Showing. They deserve respect for being excellent competitors regardless of the result of any future matches in this tournament.

    Good Luck Pakistan.

  • iscozumbraun on October 3, 2012, 7:31 GMT

    You know what Mr Purohit, I may have been guilty - on one occasion or three - of suspecting bias when it comes to your articles. But no more. You said it like it is in this one. Juggernaut. I can't think of a better word to describe what befell poor Australia yesterday. A big fat spin machine the ripped through their ranks like they were made outta cotton candy.

  • khurramsch on October 3, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    good win and pak into the semi finals once again. true that margin of victory was too high and it was almost impossible for india to stop SA making 121. though it didnt matter at the end as SA almost got to target. Now Pak need to sort what to do agaisnt SL. Hafez has been edgey in all games as opner, imaran start - stop, need to bat well vs SL who have good pacers & good spinners. And more importantly will they go by 4 spinners vs SL who are relatively good players of spin?

  • Biggus on October 3, 2012, 7:25 GMT

    No doubt about it, Pakistan played a great game and can never be discounted. As always consistency is the elusive factor with this team but if they can somehow find it for a few more games they must be rated very highly to take the cup. That was my general opinion after our warm up clash in the UAE with Pakistan and it remains the same. The ingredients are all there but what will they cook up on any given day? They are certainly one of the most exciting teams going around and I always make a point of watching even when Australia are not involved, they really are like some TV series where something crazy and improbable happens every week, without fail. Such is team Pakistan, always eminently watchable, wouldn't want to miss an episode.

  • on October 3, 2012, 7:10 GMT

    Yuvraj singh bowled better than any other so called best bowlers,economy and wickets more than even the best spinners sahid ajmal and grahme swann .People who call india'a bowling as weak plz go to the icc website ,u will find 2 indian bowlers feature among top 5 bowlers of the icct20 world cup so far when all the teams played same amount of matches.

  • NLS1 on October 3, 2012, 6:22 GMT

    Well done, Pakistan! Different tactics used for the game against Australia and they paid off handsomely!!

  • ak_dragon on October 3, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    Good Luck Team Pakistan..2 More battles & bring back the prestige for PAK Go Green...Go.... :)

  • on October 3, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    Wonderful article. Go team PAKISTAN

  • sherishahmir on October 3, 2012, 5:32 GMT

    Well done Pakistan for their performance when it matters they delivered, both Pak and India got tougher task to qualify for semis and Pak achieved that in style. Really its pride feeling that our team has qualified for all semis of T20 championship, which is great in itself. Hoping this time they win tournament also, InshAllah. Very well analysis by Abhishek Purohit, kindly also analyse why Pak always choke against India in World cups , despite they beat all major playing teams that is something mysterious and beyond our understanding.

  • Rodzilla1010 on October 3, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Good article, i doubt anyone could describe Tue's performance with such passion. On the other hand, one must give all due respect to India who won as many matches as Aus and Pak but had to leave. While west indies won a game less than india and still made it.

    As a Pak I am happy to see the back of the boys in blue in a WC however i think a 3 match test series will be a knockout as both teams are evenly matched.

  • s.a.91 on October 3, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    So well-written! Loved it.

  • on October 3, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Wishing the very bet of luck to Pakistani Team. You guys have a great chance to win this T20 Cup! Make it happen guys!

  • on October 3, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    well played team PAKISTAN nd best of luck for the semis

  • Surajdon9 on October 3, 2012, 3:00 GMT

    To min matches you need superb bowlers not only Over-rated under-Performer So called talented batsman.....All the best PAK...

  • WaseemZaidi on October 3, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Well Well Well .... Pakistan proves Australia is DO-ABLE ;)

  • AddyDaddy786 on October 3, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Great intro to the article. Good analysis. Conculsion could have been a bit more tasty. Thank you Abishek for the true reflection of the event

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  • AddyDaddy786 on October 3, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Great intro to the article. Good analysis. Conculsion could have been a bit more tasty. Thank you Abishek for the true reflection of the event

  • WaseemZaidi on October 3, 2012, 2:54 GMT

    Well Well Well .... Pakistan proves Australia is DO-ABLE ;)

  • Surajdon9 on October 3, 2012, 3:00 GMT

    To min matches you need superb bowlers not only Over-rated under-Performer So called talented batsman.....All the best PAK...

  • on October 3, 2012, 3:19 GMT

    well played team PAKISTAN nd best of luck for the semis

  • on October 3, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    Wishing the very bet of luck to Pakistani Team. You guys have a great chance to win this T20 Cup! Make it happen guys!

  • s.a.91 on October 3, 2012, 4:20 GMT

    So well-written! Loved it.

  • Rodzilla1010 on October 3, 2012, 5:00 GMT

    Good article, i doubt anyone could describe Tue's performance with such passion. On the other hand, one must give all due respect to India who won as many matches as Aus and Pak but had to leave. While west indies won a game less than india and still made it.

    As a Pak I am happy to see the back of the boys in blue in a WC however i think a 3 match test series will be a knockout as both teams are evenly matched.

  • sherishahmir on October 3, 2012, 5:32 GMT

    Well done Pakistan for their performance when it matters they delivered, both Pak and India got tougher task to qualify for semis and Pak achieved that in style. Really its pride feeling that our team has qualified for all semis of T20 championship, which is great in itself. Hoping this time they win tournament also, InshAllah. Very well analysis by Abhishek Purohit, kindly also analyse why Pak always choke against India in World cups , despite they beat all major playing teams that is something mysterious and beyond our understanding.

  • on October 3, 2012, 5:46 GMT

    Wonderful article. Go team PAKISTAN

  • ak_dragon on October 3, 2012, 5:47 GMT

    Good Luck Team Pakistan..2 More battles & bring back the prestige for PAK Go Green...Go.... :)