Australia Into World Cup Semi-Final

Australia have booked a spot in the 2015 Cricket World Cup semi-final against India at the SCG on Thursday after defeating Pakistan by 97 balls in Adelaide. Pakistan were bowled out for 213 runs and the Aussies chased down the total with 6 wickets in hand.

Josh Hazlewood starred with ball in hand for the home team. Claiming 4 wickets for 35 runs from his 10 overs, the New South Welshman bowled with ‘McGrath-like’ accuracy as the batsmen were held to their crease. The 24 year-old was included instead of the pacey Pat Cummins, a move the selectors would no doubt be very happy with.

Hazlewood could have finished with 5 wickets, but for the second time in the tournament the bails were dislodged, only to re-settle. The ball flicked the thigh pad of Misbah and nudged the leg stump, lighting up the bail and the stump.       

Australia claimed 2-37 from the opening powerplay (0.1-10 overs). Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood removed both openers in four balls, creating sharp chances behind the wicket. Solid catches to Michael Clarke and Shane Watson had the Aussies on top early. 

A solid 73-run partnership between Haris Sohail and Misbah-ul-Haq looked to have Pakistan regather their thoughts, until Mitchell Johnson ripped a cross-seam dart across the left-handed Sohail who edged behind to Brad Haddin on 41.

Pakistan seemed intent of putting it to the Aussie bowlers, with many of their wickets falling to mistimed slugs at the ball. Aaron Finch missed out with the bat, but the opener caught three down at deep mid-wicket. The bowlers had the last laugh, with Maxwell (2/43), Starc (2/40) and Faulkner (1/31) all joining Hazlewood in the party.

Australia were sharp in the field. Brad Haddin finished off the innings with a superb batch off a massive fly ball close to the wicket. The Pakistan tail added only 41, including the dangerous Shahid Afridi who’s nickname ‘Boom Boom’ echoed throughout the ground. The retiring batsman went down swinging, but he could only add 23 runs to the total.

The batting didn’t go to plan early on for the Australians, losing both openers within 9 overs for only 49 runs. Aaron Finch was caught plum LBW off Sohail for 2, wasting a review out of sheer disbelief. David Warner played a instinctive pull shot and was caught in the deep at third man for 24. 

There was more trouble when captain Michael Clarke popped a ball to short-leg. The short, fast bowling of Wahab Riaz was inspirational and Pakistan seemed to be building up towards a special victory. Wahab pestered the new batsmen at the crease. Shane Watson copped most of the blows in a truly inspired spell of bowling.

“One of the great World Cup fast bowling spells and it should have been rewarded with a wicket,” commented previous Australian seamer and FOX Sports commentator Damien Fleming.

Wahab had a chance at third man agonizingly put down and the under pressure Watson breathed a sigh of relief. The struggling batsman showed good resolve to gather himself, along with Steve Smith, to pick Australia up out of the duldrums to post a match-winning 91 run partnership.

Smith was elegant as he punched 7 boundaries through the Pakistan fielders for his 65. He was stranded LBW by Adil, which seemed to be the only way poor Misbah-ul-haq could get his country a wicket.

Glenn Maxwell and Watson steered the Australians to victory, with Watson cracking a four to the cover boundary to bring up the winning runs. He finished on 64 not out from 66 balls in a classy innings. Maxwell blasted another typically quick and lusty 44* from 29 balls, which included one of the most bizarre shots ever to grace a cricket pitch.

Josh Hazlewood was awarded man of the match honors and commented, “I’ve been bowling well all week so it was good to put it into a game,” when interviews after the match.

“Our fielding has been outstanding this tournament,” commented Hazlewood, thankfully acknowledging another sterling performance by the Aussie fielders.

“Poor shot selection really cost us,” commented Misbah after the match.

Clearly in with a chance early as the wickets began to tumble, Ul-haq reflected on the missed opportunities:

“If that catch had’ve been taken it could have been a different story.”

“Our bowlers did a fantastic job tonight,” Michael Clarke exclaimed jubilantly after the match. 

“Wahab bowled really well which tested us out.”

When asked about Australia’s chances against India on Thursday at the SCG, Clarke commented:

“Dhoni is leading them well, so it will be a challenge.” 


// ad on openWeb