Australia v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, St Lucia

Freakish Hussey performs a miracle

Andrew McGlashan

May 14, 2010

Comments: 109 | Text size: A | A

Michael Hussey targets Saeed Ajmal in the final over, Australia v Pakistan, 2nd semi-final, ICC World Twenty20, St Lucia, May 14, 2010
Michael Hussey targets Saeed Ajmal in the decisive final over of an absorbing contest © Getty Images
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Michael Hussey was still taking deep breaths when he sat down shortly after the match to discuss what he had just achieved. It hadn't sunk in. Australia shouldn't have won this game, they really shouldn't have got close.

The fact they were victorious with a ball to spare was down to one man who produced something even he doubted was possible. Words like "freakish", "extraordinary" and "special" were thrown around after his 60 off 24 deliveries, but for once they weren't too far off the mark.

One impact of Twenty20 has been the number of innings that are acclaimed as out of the ordinary in their immediate aftermath. When there are so many boundaries, so many run chases and so much cricket in a condensed period, it can be hard to retain context.

After Yusuf Pathan clubbed 100 off 37 balls early in this year's IPL, Shane Warne called it "the greatest innings he had seen", seemingly forgetting a couple of epics by Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar to start with. Twenty20 is still such a young game that the true gauge of performances will be how they are recalled in 10 or 20 years.

Given that Hussey's display came in a world semi-final against a good bowling attack under immense pressure, it may just last the test of time. "I think that's probably the best feeling I have ever had on a cricket field," he said. "Particularly in such a big game when I was having so many doubts, I had a feeling it wasn't going to be our day - when balls kept lobbing over us in field. Before today hitting the winning runs in the Adelaide Test against England was pretty special, but I think this tops it."

Whether Hussey retains that feeling when his career ends remains to be seen, and he may reflect that one of his many Test or ODI epics settles at the top. But it goes to highlight the seriousness with which Australia are now taking Twenty20 when a victory is rated higher than one of the greatest Test successes in history.

When Cameron White was caught at long-off for 43 Australia still needed 53 off 21 balls. Basically almost every delivery had to end up at the boundary and that isn't far off what happened. It was all down to Hussey. Steven Smith only managed 5 and in the 53-run stand that sealed the win Mitchell Johnson's contribution was 5 off three deliveries - although crucially he squeezed a single off the first ball of the last over.

"I can believe it because of the guy sitting beside me," Michael Clarke said after the game. "[Hussey] and White had an amazing day. I honestly felt Pakistan scored 15 runs too many. But you just can't write us off, with the class and experience we have in the team.

"This was just a freakish performance from an unbelievable cricketer. When we lost a few wickets it was always going to be hard to chase that total. Then I just couldn't watch the last over after Mitchell got a single. I was in the dressing room and heard cheers so knew it was a six, then another one and I thought: 'What's going on?'"

Hussey's striking in the final over will be what is recalled, but the way he played the penultimate six balls was a master class in limited-overs batting. The target began as 34 from 12 and Hussey collected all 16 that came from the 19th over with deft placement and hare-like running. No one could have done it better, not even the king of run-chases Michael Bevan, who used to keep his side in seemingly impossible pursuits.

Hussey has grabbed the mantle of Australia's finisher and has done it so effectively in the 50-over game that he still maintains an average over 50 after 140 matches. However, translating that into Twenty20 didn't quite come as easily. Brute force, such an important skill in the dying overs of a 20-over match, wasn't natural to him and even in this innings he used a few balls to get in.

"I'm not the kind of batsman who can go in and clear the ropes from the first ball so to start with I was just trying to give the strike to Cameron [White]," he said. "Then it came to the stage where every ball had to go and you just have to try. Even I wasn't that confident we could do it.

"It was all a bit of a blur and with last ball I just wanted to hit it out of the middle. I'm so happy and it's great to see the elation on the boys' faces."

His average has lifted by nearly 12 runs during this tournament as he has settled into the No. 7 position. He is Australia's safety valve, who has twice come in with his team in trouble against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to lead a recovery. When he launched Saeed Ajmal for the third six in the last over everything else looked tame by comparison.

Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo

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Posted by   on (May 17, 2010, 13:55 GMT)

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Posted by indianzen on (May 17, 2010, 10:16 GMT)

It was sad to see PAK loosing it, becoz after India, I support our brother pakistanees. but i am sure that both india and pak will bounce back.

Posted by   on (May 16, 2010, 9:20 GMT)

Nicely said realredbaron. More often people are so patriotic that they forget to give due credit for the team ultimately won. as far Nouman Pervez Butt is concerned, we all hear these shouts for years even before Pakistan toured Down Under and we all know what happened there. Pervez Butt, only we can do here is to shout for our respective teams but the fact is that they play the game not we. We show next time does not hold any meaning in this contest.

Posted by   on (May 16, 2010, 8:28 GMT)

i think the main reason aus was able to chase this score was CAMEROON WHITE...though hussey played out of his skin and played one of the best T20 knocks..but throu out the match WHITE was the one who kept them in it...Hats Off to his as well! :).and secondly..v sld also keep in mind dat pak wsnt at their full strngth this tournament..consider Umar Gul playin in place of Hafeez(who did not face a single ball this match) ..Australia mite not have been able to reach 170 evn..and there wasnt Rana Naved as welll whho (if i remember corectly) bowled 4 consective Maiden overs against australia in the Champ. Trophy...And V were without Malik...our middle order didnt look that strong..!..i hope Australia win the T20 crown...come July..Pak faces Aus in a 2 off t20 series..and Pak (hopin they have no controversies..and will be with their best T20 team)....will defently take Australia Out.! and besides LUCK FAVOURS THE BRAVE

Posted by   on (May 16, 2010, 7:17 GMT)

@cricketisagame: Did you really predict that Aus will beat Pak and Eng will beat S.L. If so, I'm very amazed. You are saying that S.L. is nothing in front of Eng. Yes they played bad, but on paper and before match, how can you predict such thing? As of Pak, if I'm not wrong, its called the most unpredictable team. And thats what they had shown us. Still, you predicted so confidently. Amazed!

Posted by gr8_sachin_fan on (May 16, 2010, 6:50 GMT)

@gr8st_sachin_critic: Dear Friend, why dont u check the scorecards of some of the matches I have mentioned, eg Chennai Test 1998, recent innings of 175 against Australia. You will be surprised by how little was left for victory if the set batsman had not choked under pressure. You can give all the theories that you want as explanation, but even you know in your heart that they will sound hollow.. Just as hollow as your cricketing God usually is when under pressure..

Posted by rori11 on (May 16, 2010, 2:37 GMT)

@gr8_sachin_fan: well sachin fan let me tell u one thing tht wen it comes to finishing matches u dont xpect an opener to ever do tht job coz its the job of a middle or lower order batsmen to finish games n hussy belongs to middle order. tell me one opener who has fnished games over the yrs for ny side..can u say d same wid hussey had he opened the innings for his side n faced the new bal..u r talkin abt gettin der but nt taking thru..well well well at 60/5 n wid only tailenders left(chennai test) how many times did lara or ponting take der side thru...sachin gets d rteam so close n the other 10 idiots nver finish d job for us.. so v always tend to forget wt he did n point fingers at wt he cud not achive...hussey has always been der 4 aussies like bevan but 2day coz he played such an innings every1s claiming him master of cricket etc..dats a shame to playerd like sachin, lara who hav done so much 4 der countries n sum of dem hav gone unnoticed or been criticized..

Posted by shakir23 on (May 15, 2010, 22:44 GMT)

wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww, i reckon this is the best run chase in t20 history. hussey hats off to you man.

Posted by   on (May 15, 2010, 22:37 GMT)

Right now I am afraid for England. They would have to come all guns blazing. I wrote off Australia in the 15th over and left for work but was shocked and amazed to find out they won Good luck England. Every one have to come to the party for the English.

Posted by   on (May 15, 2010, 22:24 GMT)

Great innings from Hussy.....In 2007 yuvraj's 12 ballls 50 stands out as best innnings...fIn 2010 this innings is best....

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Andrew McGlashanClose
Andrew McGlashan Assistant Editor Andrew arrived at ESPNcricinfo via Manchester and Cape Town, after finding the assistant editor at a weak moment as he watched England's batting collapse in the Newlands Test. Andrew began his cricket writing as a freelance covering Lancashire during 2004 when they were relegated in the County Championship. In fact, they were top of the table when he began reporting on them but things went dramatically downhill. He likes to let people know that he is a supporter of county cricket, a fact his colleagues will testify to and bemoan in equal quantities.
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