Pakistan won the toss but lost the early advantage. Their openers, who excelled against Ireland, fell easy prey to the Australian pace battery. Only Misbah-Ul-Haq fought as he had been doing in CWC 2015. With Haris Sohail, Misbah attempted a rescue mission and added 73 runs for third-wicket. That was the highest partnership in Pakistan’s innings with Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell breathing fire. Despite that, Pakistan’s middle order combined well to get the team score past 200. It was not enough in this World Cup as it gave only a moderate 214-run victory target to Australia. But the best part of Pakistan’s performance came from speedster Wahab Riaz, who almost made the top order wobble with his fearsome spells. To Wahab and Pakistan’s bad fortune, performance in the field was found wanting. The shoddy fielding helped Australia, who faced some real trouble at 59/3. Shane Watson was one batsman, who had to face a barrage of bouncers from Wahab. Watson was rattled but he held his nerves, knowing that Wahab could not continue from both ends and his quota of overs was limited. On the other end, Steve Smith was steady and soon they got over the difficult phase in their chase. Towards the finish line, Glenn Maxwell came into his explosive self to hammer 44 off 29 balls. Bolstered by his partner’s blast, Watson also scored briskly and remained unbeaten for a 66-ball 64 as Australia raced away to a 6-wicket victory and secured their place in the semifinal.
Pakistan batted first after Misbah-Ul-Haq won the toss. The skipper felt confident after Sarfraz’s century against Ireland with Ahmed Shehzad also coming good. But it was an error to compare Ireland’s bowling with Australia’s. Starc, Johnson, Hazlewood, Faulkner, Watson and Maxwell are in a different league. They didn’t allow much liberty to Sarfraz and Shehzad, who could carry their stand until it was 20/0 on the board. In the 5th over, Sarfraz managed a short-arm pull to a ball from Starc that came to him at 150 kph. On the next ball, Starc found the outer edge of Sarfraz’s bat and the diving Shane Watson pulled off a superb catch. In the next over, Shehzad got a touch of Hazlewood’s away-going ball and this time it was Michael Clarke to come off with another slip catch. At 24/2 in 6th over, Misbah came to join Hais Sohail and two of them began repairing the early damage. But after putting on 73 runs for the third wicket, Misbah fell to a slog sweep off Glenn Maxwell. Misbah had hit Maxwell for two sixes earlier and in attempting the third, he holed out to Aaron Finch at the cow corner. In the 27th over, Sohail also fell to a bouncer from Mitchell Johnson, when the batsman got a top edge from his attempt at a pull-shot. 112/4 looked too poor for the side batting first. The successive batsmen got into the twenties but fell in trying to play lofted shots. Like Misbah, Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi also holed out to Finch as fifth and sixth wickets; Sohaib Maqsood found Johnson in the deep and Wahab Riaz was taken by Brad Haddin. Sohail Khan, Ehasan Adil and Rahat Ali managed to take Pakistan past 200 as the entire side was bowled out in the 50th over for 213.
Australia had a victory target of 214 but they began by losing Aaron Finch in the 3rd over. David Warner and Steve Smith steadied the boat and took the score to 49, before Warner skied Wahab Riaz’s short and wide ball to a fielder at third man. In the 11th over, Wahab Riaz brought Pakistan back in the match by a rising ball to Michael Clarke, who couldn’t keep the shot down and Australia looked in genuine trouble against Wahab at 59/3. In Wahab’s 17th over, Shane Watson almost departed but Rahat Ali dropped a dolly. Wahab, however was still in full cry as both Steve Smith and Watson found it difficult to negotiate him. They held on somehow since the low target gave them plenty of cushion. After 20 overs, Australia were 106/3. After adding 89 runs with Watson, Smith fell, when Ehsan him plumb in front. But by that time, only 68 were required in 23.2 overs. In addition, there was Glenn Maxwell, who could not be kept quiet against the best of the bowlers. As Maxwell blasted the bowlers and Watson continued, the target kept shrinking. Australia romped home for the 6-wicket victory in the 34th over. In the second semifinal of CWC 2015 at Sydney on March 26, Australia will meet India, who came through impressively in this World Cup and beat Bangladesh in quarterfinal on March 19, 2015.
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