World Cup 2015: Pakistan sets minimum run to Australia


Pakistan will need an outstanding bowling effort to extend their campaign, and the ODI careers of Misbah-ul-Haq and Shahid Afridi, after being kept to 213 in their quarter-final against Australia.

Josh Hazlewood claimed four wickets after being recalled to the side, and Mitchell Starc continued his excellent tournament as a disciplined Australia maintained the pressure on the Pakistan batsmen.

Pakistan’s innings featured more cameos than a Robert Altman film. Eight batsmen reached double figures but nobody scored a fifty. Misbah and Haris Sohail provided a solid 73-run stand for the third wicket but once they were removed it was a steady decline, punctuated by a few boundaries here and there, but no individual innings of substance.

Misbah and Haris had come together at 24 for 2, and Pakistan were fortunate it was not 24 for 3. The second ball that Misbah faced flicked the leg stump and while the zing bail lit up, it only jumped briefly out of its groove and fell back into place, denying Hazlewood a wicket. Misbah might have been released on bail, but Pakistan will need a brilliant escape plan to get out of jail in this match.

Misbah started slowly and looked set to perform yet another rescue mission for his faltering side, and together with Haris frustrated the Australians. Ultimately, though, it was Pakistan who were frustrated.

Trying to lift the run rate, Misbah fell for 34 off 59 deliveries, and was followed soon after by a flat-footed Haris, who edged behind off Mitchell Johnson for 41 off 57.

Twice he had cleared the midwicket boundary off Glenn Maxwell, but when he tried for a third he managed only a top edge that was comfortably taken in the deep by Aaron Finch.

Perhaps tempted by the short square boundaries at Adelaide Oval, Umar Akmal also sent a catch straight to Finch at deep midwicket when he saw Maxwell drop one shorter. And then it was Afridi, who miscued his pull off Hazlewood and was well caught by Finch above his head back near the boundary.

Afridi had struck three fours and one six, a slice over point off Johnson, and if it turns out to be his last one-day international then at least the fans were treated to an Afridi-like innings: an unpredictable, entertaining 23 off 15.

Sohaib Maqsood and Wahab Riaz briefly annoyed the Australians with a 30-run stand, but much of the frustration was that Starc and his fast-bowling colleagues just kept beating the bat. Maqsood fell for 29 when he slashed Hazlewood to point, and Riaz was gone for 16 when he edged behind off Starc.

Pakistan nearly batted out their overs, although the runs dried up. Sohail Khan top-edged off Hazlewood and was caught by Haddin for 4, and from the fifth ball of the 50th over, Ehsan Adil was caught in the deep for 15. Pakistan had stuttered to 213, hardly the sort of total Misbah had in mind when he won the toss and chose to bat.

But then, maybe it was a decent effort given both openers were gone within the first six overs. Sarfraz Ahmed failed to negotiate the ball angled across him from Starc and edged to first slip, where a deceptively fast-moving Shane Watson dived low to his right to make an outstanding take.

Ahmed Shehzad followed in the next over when he too edged, this time off Hazlewood, and Michael Clarke at second slip took a similar catch moving low to his right. That left Pakistan at 24 for 2; luckily for them, two balls later the bail proved less wobbly than their opening batsmen, and Misbah was allowed to lead a recovery of sorts.

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