Spinners help Pakistan crush Australia
Pakistan 90 for 3 (K Akmal 31*) beat Australia 89 (Warner 22, Tanvir 3-13) by 7 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan began their warm-up for the ICC World Twenty20 with a comprehensive win over Australia in Dubai, where their spinners flummoxed Australia's long batting line-up. Not since the second T20 international ever played had Australia scored as few in an innings as the 89 for which they were dismissed in this match, and although Pakistan lost three wickets in the chase they were never in danger of losing. They cruised to the target with 31 balls to spare.
Statistics don't always mean much in T20 but the story of this match could be summed up with a few numbers. It was the first time since another loss to Pakistan in Dubai in May 2009 that Australia failed to hit a six in a T20 innings. They struck only three fours in the 19.3 overs they faced; Pakistan had that many within four overs. The only time Australia scored fewer in a completed T20 innings was 79 against England in Southampton in 2005, back when the IPL was not even a glimmer in Lalit Modi's eye. Never before had a team beaten Australia with so many balls to spare.
But the figures don't tell how Pakistan managed such a one-sided result. Sohail Tanvir finished with 3 for 13 but it was the work of the spinners, Mohammad Hafeez, Saeed Ajmal and the debutant Raza Hasan that kept Australia from posting a competitive score. They picked up two wickets each and the regular breakthroughs and large boundaries starved the Australians.
Again they found Ajmal difficult to pick, while Hasan's clever variations showed that he can be a force at international level, while Hafeez was typically tidy. Pakistan also held their catches, which they had not always done during the ODIs, and only three Australians reached double figures, making it irrelevant that they had entered the game with eight batsmen.
David Warner top scored with 22 from 25 balls, an innings that at the time looked scratchy but was solid when compared with the rest of the performances. Warner was the third man to fall when he pushed a catch back to the bowler Hafeez, after the innings had started shakily when Shane Watson was trapped in front by Umar Gul for 8.
Promoted to No.3, Michael Hussey chipped a catch to cover when he failed to pick Tanvir's slower ball. Warner and George Bailey provided a slight recovery with a 33-run stand before Warner went, and that was followed soon after by Hasan's first international wicket, which came when David Hussey failed to clear the man at long on.
Bailey fell for 14 when he top edged a sweep off Hafeez and was caught at deep backward square leg, and it was up to Cameron White and Matthew Wade to attempt a recovery. But Pakistan's spinners were too good for White and Wade, Ajmal's variations especially deceptive, although it was Hasan who broke the partnership when Wade holed out to deep midwicket for 6 from 13 balls.
Glenn Maxwell, who came in at No.8, was caught at deep square leg off Ajmal for 4 and next ball White failed to read Ajmal and was bowled for 15 off 22 balls. Xavier Doherty survived the hat trick ball but that was about all the Australians had to celebrate, as Tanvir finished off the tail to end up with 3 for 13.
Australia's bowlers had nothing to defend and their cause was hopeless from the start. Hafeez and Imran Nazir, playing his first international for two and a half years, gave Pakistan a solid start with their 30-run opening stand. They both found the boundary and Nazir showed a willingness to take on the Australian bowlers, despite the small chase.
Hafeez (17) fell to a slower ball from Pat Cummins when he chipped a catch to midwicket and the Australians claimed a second when Ben Hilfenhaus bowled Nasir Jamshed for 10 with a good inswinger. Nazir eventually fell for 22 when he pushed a Watson full toss to cover, but Kamran Akmal and Shoaib Malik saw Pakistan home. Akmal struck the only six of the match and finished unbeaten on 31 from 24 balls. He hit more boundaries on his own than the Australians did for their entire innings.
It was a clinical performance from Pakistan, but Australia did little to suggest their ninth place in the ICC T20 rankings is anything but accurate. Of course in T20 anything can happen on any day; Australia just need to make sure something happens for them before this series is out. Because one day like this in the World T20 could be enough to send them home early.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here