Australia down Pakistan


Australia overcame Pakistan on Friday to set up a World Cup semi-final with defending champions India, as the International Cricket Council took the extraordinary step of rebuking their own president in a row over ‘biased’ umpiring.

Pakistan, the 1992 champions, collapsed to 213 after skipper Misbah-ul-Haq won the toss and batted first on a good Adelaide Oval pitch.

Recalled Australia fast bowler Josh Hazlewood took four for 35 in an innings where Haris Sohail top-scored with 41 and put on 73 for the third wicket with Misbah (34).

But a spirited Pakistan reduced Australia to 59 for three, with left-armer Wahab Riaz (two for 54) capturing the prize wicket of home captain Michael Clarke for just eight in a superb spell of fast bowling.

However fine leg Rahat Ali dropped a routine catch after all-rounder Shane Watson, then on four, top-edged a Wahab bouncer. It was a key moment, with Australia then 83 for three.

Steven Smith’s composed 65 steadied Australia before Watson, 64 not out and Glenn Maxwell, also dropped off the luckless Riaz on his way to an unbeaten 44, saw the tournament co-hosts to a six-wicket win in the 34th over.

“It was a close game, in the end our bowlers did a great job and we were strong in the field,” said Clarke.

Pakistan’s defeat meant this match became a final one-day international before retirement for both the 40-year-old Misbah and fellow veteran Shahid Afridi, who bowed out with a typically quickfire 23.

“It is disappointing…but Australia deserve it,” said Misbah. Turning to Riaz, he added: “I have never seen a bowler bowling like that and if that catch had been taken who knows what could have happened?”

Australia, wearing black armbands as mark of respect for former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, who died earlier on Friday, will now play India in Sydney on March 26.
‘Baseless’ attack
Meanwhile the fall-out from India’s 109-run quarter-final thrashing of Bangladesh in Melbourne on Thursday saw the ICC’s president, Mustafa Kamal of Bangladesh, say decisions made by officials seemed to have been “pre-arranged”.

He was especially angry that India’s Rohit Sharma, who made 137, had not been given out when caught on 90 after umpires Aleem Dar and Ian Gould signalled a no-ball for what appeared to be a legitimate waist-high delivery from Rubel Hossain.

But ICC chief executive David Richardson, who labelled Kamal’s comments “very unfortunate”, defended the umpires by saying: “Any suggestion that the match officials had ‘an agenda’ or did anything other than perform to the best of their ability are baseless and are refuted in the strongest possible terms.”

New Zealand and the West Indies complete the quarter-final stage in Wellington on Saturday, with the winners playing South Africa-who thrashed Sri Lanka by nine wickets-in Auckland on March 24.

West Indies’ chances of victory won’t be helped if star batsman Chris Gayle, who earlier in this tournament scored a World Cup record 215 against Zimbabwe, is ruled out through injury.

The big-hitting opener trained for the first time this week on Friday, two days after receiving an injection in his lower back.

“He (Gayle) has had an injection and a scan. The scan didn’t show anything major, so we’ll just see how he pulls up and make a decision tomorrow morning,” said West Indies captain Jason Holder.

However, Holder stressed the West Indies-winners of the first two World Cups back in 1975 and 1979 — could still succeed even without the 35-year-old Jamaican, pointing to the composed 55 made by Johnson Charles when he stepped in for last weekend’s win over the UAE that saw the side into the last eight on net run-rate.

“Johnson came in the last game and got a half-century and looked the part. So we’ve got people to fill his boots but obviously having Chris there is a plus for us.”

Source: Prothom Alo