Australia crush title-holders to send early warning

GROS ISLET, St Lucia, CMC – A blazing half century from Shane Watson and incisive fast bowling from Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait guided Australia to a 34-run victory over defending champions Pakistan in the World Twenty20 Championship yesterday.

Watson struck a masterful 81 as Australia, having won the toss and batted, were dismissed for 191 in 20 overs. Nannes (3-20) and Tait (3-41) then combined to take three wickets each as Pakistan folded lamely for 157 in 20 overs.

The right-handed Watson faced just 49 balls and struck seven fours and six sixes before falling leg before to Saeed Ajmal in the 17th over of the innings.

He added 98 for the third wicket with David Hussey whose 53 came off 29 balls and comprised two fours and five sixes. Hussey was eventually caught at deep mid-wicket off off-spinner Saeed Ajmal three balls prior to Watson’s demise in the 17th over.

David Warner was his usual aggressive self at the start of the Australian innings but offered a catch to Umar Akmal at backward square leg off pacer Mohammad Sami when he was on 26 after having faced 18 balls.

Australia’s innings came to a dramatic close with their last five wickets falling without the addition of a single run, in the last over of the innings bowled by speedster Mohammed Aamer. Two were run outs via underarm throws from wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal.

Aamer finished with three for 23 while Saeed Ajmal snapped up three for 34.

Pakistan felt the agony of their worst possible start, losing the aggressive Akmal for no score to the first legitimate ball of the innings when he sliced a straight forward catch to Steve Smith square of the wicket on the off-side off Nannes.

They were in further trouble when Salman Butt skied to long off to be caught by David Hussey off Tait in the fourth over for 15 and when Mohammad Hafeez was caught by Mike Hussey at square leg off left-arm seamer Mitchell Johnson, Pakistan were drifting at 34 for three.

Umar Akmal halted the slide momentarily but was the fourth wicket to tumble, caught on the second attempt at extra cover by Mike Hussey off the bowling of Steve Smith for 18.

Pakistan’s best partnership came via their captain Shahid Afridi who joined Misbah-Ul-Haq to post 47 for the fifth wicket.

Afridi scored 33 with three fours and one six off 24 balls before ill-advisedly playing across the line to a straight delivery from Tait and losing his off-stump.

Misbah-Ul-Haq stroked a top score of 41 from 31 balls with a four and two sixes but perished thanks to a splendid catch by captain Michael Clarke running in from long off.

His dismissal at 132 for seven in the 17th over ended Pakistan’s resistance as their last four wickets crumbled for 25 runs.

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