World Twenty20 2014: Four talking points as Pakistan beat Australia
World Twenty20 2014: Four talking points from Dhaka as Australia suffer agonising defeat to 2009 winners Pakistan
Glenn Maxwell would have though that he did more than enough to blast his side to victory after making a breathtaking 74 off 33 balls but his team’s failure to push on and cement victory means that another batsman will be grabbing the headlines. Both deserved to be on the winning side but it is Umar Akmal, who scored an equally impressive 94 off 54, that will be remembered for his match-winning innings. If there was ever an advert why people should be watching T20 cricket, it was the performance of these two. Together they hit 26 boundaries, yes 26. Akmal may sometimes be guilty of losing his wicket easily occasionally but today he had everything. His footwork was immaculate and organisation at the crease second to none. The rest took care of itself, Australia simply had no idea how to deal with him. The 23-year-old is tipped to become one of the country’s most successful batsman and with Shahid Afridi entering the opposite side of his career, there is no better time to perform in such a way.
Absence of Johnson
Johnson was the only recognised Test cricket bowler set to star in the T20 World Cup format but a toe infection suffered in the summer put his hopes to bed. The left-handed fast paceman is no doubt an irreplaceable figure – England don’t need reminding of that. At times in the the Ashes he single-handedly destroyed Alastair Cook’s men and has racked up 24 wickets from 17 games as the Mumbai Indians stormed to the IPL title last year. The 32-year-old’s absence is not ideal but it gives the other bowlers a chance to bowl the Aussies to World Cup glory. Mitchell Starc, Doug Bollinger and Shane Watson each picked up a wicket in today’s encounter, while Nathan Coulter-Nile claimed two. The latter had to make way for Johnson at times in the one-day series against England earlier this year but has said his stint in the squad has been a valuable learning experience. Coulter-Nile took two key Pakistan wickets despite being hit by 36. His economy is sure to only improve as the tournament goes on but if he can continue to deliver those crucial deliveries as we saw today, then Darren Lehmann can certainly start to believe that he will be picking up his first World T20 title.
Pakistan’s tournament chances
If Pakistan suffered another defeat it could have been curtains on their World Cup hopes and it looked to be heading that way for long parts of the match. Friday’s seven-wicket defeat to arch-rivals India cut the nation deep but responding in this manner deserves credit. Australia needed 66 off 8 overs to ensure their opponents remained rooted to the table but the determination, along with class, blew away the hopes of Lehmann’s side. It is the sheer unpredictability of the Pakistan side which makes them so dangerous – nobody knows what they are capable of next. The Aussies looked to have a bit of complacency in failing to shut out the match but Pakistan never let their heads go down. The side claimed the trophy in 2009 and with today’s result have put themselves in the picture to pick up the trophy again. Though in such an unforgiving tournament, all it takes is one mediocre performance to wipe away them hopes and even send the side onto a plane journey home. However, if Umar Akmal can continue to produce the good at the crease, along with the likes of Afridi and Umar Gul making things didfficult for the opposition attack, then who is to say that Pakistan can’t put their name on the 2014 trophy.
Doubts over Bangladesh venue
Civil unrest in Chittagong and Dhaka was high on the agenda in the months leading to the T20 showcase. Many, including the Australia camp, believed the venue would certainly be changed. Following a security meeting, organisers decided that it was safe for the cricket-hungry nation of Bangladesh to stage the tournament. At least 80 people have been killed as a result of the tension in the country, with added fears to cricketers of another attack such as the horrific ordeal the Sri Lankans faced five years ago in Lahore when their team coach was ambushed. Of course, the nation have an uphill battle in winning over their doubters and weather problems in the England v New Zealand clash have done nothing to help the cause. But on the cricket side of things – what really matters – we have already seen some fine spectacles. Today was another example of that and the matches just keep on improving. The fans got their moneys worth and each spectator looked right at home in Dhaka. So far, the venues look to be a fresh air, lets just hope that continues and cricket remains the talking point.