Mirpur (Bangladesh), March 23:
Former champions Pakistan bounced back in style from their loss to India with a 16-run win over Australia in their must-win ICC World Twenty20 Group 2 match at the Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here Sunday.
The star of the show was Umar Akmal, who struck a blistering 54-ball 94 as Pakistan notched up a challenging 191 for five in 20 overs.
While chasing, none of the Australian batsmen, barring Glenn Maxwell (74) and Aaron Finch (65), could get to double figures.
Pakistani spinners put on a fine show with Zulfiqar Babbar (2/26), Shahid Afridi (2/30) and Saeed Ajmal (1/33) doing most of the damage.
Australia suffered a serious set-back in the first over as left-arm off spinner Babbar dismissed David Warner (4) and Shane Watson (4).
But what followed next was pure carnage by Maxwell, who raised hopes of an Australian win with his whirlwind 33-ball 74. Maxwell smashed seven fours and six sixes and added 118-runs for the third wicket with Finch.
With Maxwell and Finch going great guns, it looked Australian would get home to an easy win. But it was Afridi, who did the trick to break the partnership by dismissing Maxwell who holed out to Ahmed Shehzad on the deep-midwicket boundary.
The onus was then on Finch, who hit seven fours and two sixes in his 54-ball knock, but wickets kept falling at the other end.
Finch finally fell to Ajmal, who uprooted the stumps with a yorker as Australia from a comfortable 126 for two slumped to 162 for six. The remaining fou wickets added just 13 runs as Pakistan wrapped up an important win.
Earlier, after being put in, Pakistan lost opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad (5) and skipper Mohammad Hafeez (13) inside five overs for only 25 runs.
But the Akmal brothers – Umar and Kamran (31) – joined forces with their 96-run stand for the third wicket in barely 51 balls to take Pakistan to a commanding position.
It was a measured knock from Kamran as he struck four fours in his run-a-ball knock. But Umar was more aggressive than his elder brother and made his intentions clear right from the start.
The two brothers took the attack to the Australians with their audacious stroke play. Kamran perished in his attempt to smack Nathan Coulter-Nile out of the ground and David Warner took a good running catch on the boundary.
Shoaib Maqsood, who followed in next, took 13 balls for five runs before being castled by Coulter-Nile paving the way for Afridi’s entry amidst a huge cheer.
Umar and Afridi entertained the crowd with their power-hitting to all parts of the ground and added 33 runs for the fifth wicket in just 20 balls. Afridi smashed the fourth ball he faced for a six over mid-wicket.
On the other end, Umar kept the runs flowing and in all he struck nine fours and four sixes in his 54-ball knock. Umar almost got his century but failed to connect well a full toss from Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell took an easy catch at long on.
Afridi remained unbeaten on an 11-ball 20 hitting a six and two fours while Shoaib Malik was not out on three.