ESPNcricinfo Awards 2010 T20 batting winner: A freak of an innings
One of the criticisms of Twenty20 is that there is little time to fight back from difficult positions, unlike in the 50-over game. Try telling that to Mike Hussey, who produced one of the finest Twenty20 innings in the format's short history in St Lucia, an unbeaten 60 off 24 deliveries from No. 7, to propel Australia into the World Twenty20 final in Barbados.
Pakistan had produced a powerful batting display to reach 191, and when Australia slipped to 62 for 4 it looked assured Pakistan would reach their third consecutive final. But Cameron White began the recovery with 43 off 31 balls, including five sixes, then Hussey entered at 105 for 5 in the 13th over with 87 needed off 45 balls. Two a ball is considered pushing the limits of attainability, even in Twenty20.
The equation was an even tougher 68 off 27, seemingly past the point of no return, when Hussey hit Shahid Afridi for his first six and immediately followed it with another. However, he kept losing partners as White and Steve Smith departed. Still Hussey remained calm and calculated his options. Australia's tactics of batting Hussey so low in the order had been questioned, but they insisted it meant that all-out attack was possible. It was 48 off 17 when Mitchell Johnson arrived. It turned to 34 off the last two overs.
That was when Hussey showed his class as a batsman. Although the innings was studded with awesome power, he also gave a lesson in touch and placement. Mohammad Amir's final over was far from a disgrace, as he homed in on the blockhole in an attempt to cramp Hussey for room. Yet it cost 16 as Hussey paddle-swept the first ball for four, then ran like a whippet between the wickets to ensure he kept the strike, before a final-ball boundary set up the last-over denouement.
The offspinner Saeed Ajmal was given the responsibility of the final over - a gamble by Afridi, but Ajmal had done it before. Johnson did his job by scrambling a single and Ajmal suddenly lost the fast yorker that made him tough to score off. Hussey seized on length deliveries to launch consecutive sixes; the Beausejour Stadium's decent-sized boundaries were cleared with ease. A boundary through cover then levelled the scores, but Hussey wasn't going to dink a single; his sixth six sealed an extraordinary victory. In the end, they had a ball to spare.
Hussey, a player who had achieved great scoring feats in the game, roared with raw emotion as the Australia dug-out sprinted towards him. "Michael Hussey is an absolute freak," is how Michael Clarke summed up the performance. Before this tournament Australia had struggled to embrace Twenty20 cricket, but Hussey was in no doubt about what he had achieved. "I can't believe we have won the game," he said. "This is the best feeling of my career."
Twenty20 remains a young game but this innings will stand the test of time.
Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo