Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq batted extremely sensibly to guide Pakistan to a six-wicket win over World Champs Australia at Johannesburg. Pakistan had half of their job done by their bowlers who restricted the strong Australian batting line-up to just 164. Shoaib Malik’s decision to field first paid off because of a good bowling show. In their chase, Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq weathered an early storm to help their side enter the Semis.
Sohail Tanvir, the left armer who jumps on the wrong foot continued to surprise the batsmen. The Australians too had their share of problems with both Hayden and Gilchrist getting out to him early. The wicket of Gilchrist was the big one as he had already got going with five fours in his 24. Symonds (29 from 18) and Ponting (27 from 26) led the recovery before falling prey to Afridi and Hafeez respectively leaving Australia at 92 for 4 in 11.1 overs. The bad news for the Aussies was that Ponting had injured his hamstring during his innings which later ruled him out of the game. Another recovery came from Hussey (37 from 25 with 3 fours and a six) and Hodge (36 from 29) which took Australia to 164 for 7. Pakistan gave away just 14 runs in the last three overs which made the Aussies fall short of some important runs. All the five bowlers used by Malik bowled economically well.
Pakistan were looking good in their start getting a couple of sixes until Imran Nazir threw it away with an ambitious shot off the first ball Stuart Clark had bowled. Clark did more damage removing another two wickets that of Mohammad Hafeez and Younis Khan. Left armer Mitchell Johnson joined the party trapping Salman Butt lbw and Pakistan now were in a mess at 46 for 4 in 6.4. Shoaib Malik and Misbah-ul-Haq ensured that they were no more wickets going down for Pakistan as they gradually got them closer to the target. The 12th over which was bowled by Michael Clarke was decisive as it went for 17 runs and then a flurry of boundaries from both batsmen made it look so simple. Another 17 runs were collected in the 15th over which was bowled by Andrew Symonds. That left Pakistan 31 to win from 30 and that was a cake walk for the two settled batsmen who didn’t make any mistake. Pakistan cruised through by six wickets with four balls to spare. Malik got 52 from 38 with 4 fours and two sixes and Misbah-ul-Haq got 65 from 41 with 7 fours and a six to get the Man of the Match award.