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Pakistan vs Australia 1st T20: Umar Blitz Sets Up Pakistan Victory

By on July 6, 2010

Pakistan 167 for 8 (Umar Akmal 64) beat Australia 144 (Warner 41, Ajmal 3-26, Aamer 3-27) by 23 runs…

It can’t bring back the World Twenty20 trophy, but Pakistan extracted some sort of revenge on Australia in their first meeting since the semi-final in St Lucia. Again, a vigorous Umar Akmal half-century set up Pakistan’s innings but this time their bowlers, led by Mohammad Aamer, did enough to strangle Australia’s run-rate and deny Michael Clarke’s men, who couldn’t chase down 168.

In May, it took something special from Michael Hussey to drive Australia into the decider against England, as he monstered the 18 needed off the last over, bowled by Saeed Ajmal. This time, Ajmal fittingly collected the final wicket and was mobbed by his team-mates as Australia fell to a 23-run defeat, their first loss to Pakistan in any format in their past 13 meetings.

Umar set up the victory with the fastest Twenty20 international half-century by a Pakistan player, a 21-ball effort that brought the thousands of Pakistan fans at Edgbaston to their feet. Their 167 for 8 looked competitive but gettable, and when David Warner scythed five boundaries from Shoaib Akhtar’s first five balls, Australia appeared to be in charge.

But once the field went back, and Shahid Afridi and Umar Gul came on, the runs dried up. Gul delivered yorker after yorker, and Afridi altered his pace and angle to keep Warner and David Hussey guessing during their 52-run stand. Hussey had 34 from 28 balls when he skied Afridi to mid-on, and Warner followed in the next over.

Warner’s 41 from 31 was more restrained than his usual Twenty20 efforts, with the attack on Akhtar his only period of dominance. Ajmal, the unlucky man asked to bowl the final over in St Lucia, deceived Warner with a ball that went straight on, beat the bat and crashed into the stumps. That brought Michael Hussey to the crease, but there were no heroics this time.

The Australians needed some top-order support for Warner; instead, Michael Clarke’s dismal Twenty20 batting record continued. He was caught for 5, trying to force Abdul Razzaq through cover and it is now eight innings since he has scored better than a run a ball in a Twenty20 for his country.

Aamer (3 for 27) began the strong bowling effort by trapping Shane Watson lbw in the first over of the chase, before he returned to snare the key wickets of Cameron White and Steven Smith. With every wicket the Pakistan fans roared and blasted on their air horns, just as they had during Umar’s batting blitz.

The highlight of his 64 was a pair of sixes straight down the ground off Smith, but his ability to the find the gaps and invent ways of scoring was remarkable. It takes a brave man to paddle sweep a Dirk Nannes full toss off middle stump, but Umar made it look like the most logical selection of stroke and ran the ball to the fine-leg boundary.

He departed in the 19th over, bowled by Shaun Tait, but by then he’d done enough. Umar was the star, but he had good support from Shoaib Malik in a 51-run stand that included 20 off one over, as Malik launched a stinging attack on David Hussey’s offspin.

Malik was out in unusual fashion when he edged a slow bouncer behind off Nannes and the batsmen took a cheeky single, only for replays to show that Tim Paine had completed the catch diving forward. Pakistan looked like they might not even bat out their overs after they stumbled to 47 for 4 in the eighth over.

Umar’s recovery won Pakistan the game, and earned him the Man-of-the-Match award. There was no world trophy on offer, but the win will give Pakistan confidence ahead of their long tour of England. And a confident Pakistan is a dangerous Pakistan.

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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