Umar Akmal Sizzles in the Heat of Dhaka to Floor Australia

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Scored 94 off 54 Balls

A tale of four halves, after Pakistan stumbled to 36/2 in the powerplay overs before Umar Akmal wrestled the initiative back with the bat after the slow start in the powerplay overs, smashing 94 to help Pakistan to a formidable 191/5. 


The Australian innings was the opposite, with Maxwell scoring 74 off 33 balls to leave his side needing just 75 off the final 10 overs. However, they lost 8 for 58 in the final 10 as Gul, Afridi, Ajmal, Bhatti and Babar bowled out the Australians 16 runs short. 

Australia opted to put Pakistan in to bat at Dhaka as they looked to put pressure on a batting line-up feeling the heat after the loss to India. Ahmed Shehzad (5 off 5) faced the first delivery, bowled by Mitchell Starc, and pushed the first delivery for four through the covers. His opening partner Kamran Akmal faced the third delivery of the innings and on first view, appeared to have edged the ball behind. However Umpire Kettleborough decided to consult the third umpire and replays showed the ball hitting the ground. 


Bollinger bowled the second over and found some bounce and after testing the middle of the pitch with a few pacy short deliveries, Ahmed Shehzad looked to take him on but only managed to sky the ball back to the bowler after trying to pull from outside off stump, and Pakistan were 7/, just ten deliveries into the game. 


Kamran Akmal looked a little more settled after collecting four in Starc’s second over with a push through the off-side as Pakistan looked to play positively. Hafeez cross-batted a Bollinger short delivery for four and then pulled him to the boundary in the next ball as the line from the left-armer became predictable. Hafeez (13 off 10) looked to carry the attack to Watson, but would have been disappointed after playing on to the stumps after stepping out to the bowler. 


Umar Akmal came out to join his brother Kamran at number four, with Pakistan on 25/2 in the fifth over. Pakistan reached 36/2 at the end of the powerplay, the junior Akmal typically unperturbed by the situation as he pulled the first ball in the air and on the second delivery looked to loft over mid on, both evading the infield but failing to reach the boundary. The two batsman looked increasingly comfortable at the crease although Umar Akmal had a bit of luck after being dropped by Brad Hogg on 23, which turned out to be a costly drop. 


Hogg was brought back into the attack and Umar hit two boundaries off the 10th over. Kamran Akmal too was dropped by Doug Bollinger on 22 and the fielder would have been slightly relieved when the umpire adjudged it to be no-ball. That relief would have been short-lived however, as Umar Akmal smashed the free-hit for six off a Watson full-toss. 


The two batsmen looked to captialise and Aaron Finch came on to bowl left-arm spin in the 12th over, Umar Akmal greeting him with a six and a four, one pulled and the other a trade-mark cut shot. He brought up his 50 off just 28 balls, with five fours and three sixes, after rocking back and pulling Finch over midwicket for six and his over was plundered for 18. 


The spin experiment ended, as Coulter-Nile was brought into the attack and Kamran picked up a single to feed the in-form Umar at the other end. Umar duly obliged, pushing the next delivery through point for four but Nile removed Kamran (31 off 31) who was caught in the deep. 


Maqsood came to the crease but Umar Akmal continued on his merry way, collecting boundaries off Coulter-Nile and Bolliger as Pakistan brought up the 100 in the 12th over, off 69 balls. Maqsood (5) departed as Pakistan went into the final four overs on 147/4, with Umar Akmal and Shahid Afridi at the crease. 


Afridi smashed a six off the second delivery he faced, and a four three balls later as he carried on his form from the Asia Cup. Akmal hit two Stark full tosses for four and six but Bollinger bowled a tight 19th over, in which he condeded just 5 runs to reduced Pakistan’s chances of posting 200. Umar Akmal departed in the final over for 94, looking for a big hit to reach his century as Pakistan ended on 191/5 from the 20 overs, a target which appeared unlikely after the challenging start. 


Pakistan got off to a dream start, as veteran Zulfiaqr Babar struck twice in the first over, bowling Warner and inducing an edge behind by Watson to leave Australia 8/2. Aaron Finch and Glenn Maxwell however refused to be tied by the situation, as they unleashed a succession of pulls and cuts against all of the Pakistani bowlers. Ajmal was hit for 13 and Afridi 15 but it was Bhatti who suffered the most at the hands of the two batsmen, his over included 5 boundaries: 4,1,4,6,6,5(nb),4. 


Maxwell was at his destructive best and collected his 50 off just 18 balls, which included five 4s and five 6s and left Australia needing just 75 from the last 10 overs. Babar brought some sanity to proceedings in the next over, the 9th, as he condeded just three runs and Gul just five in his next over. As with Kamran and Umar earlier in the day, the batsmen were given a couple of chances as Kamran dropped an edge behind off an Ajmal doosra by Finch and two balls later Ajmal dropped a sitter off Maxwell. 


Maxwell (74 off 33 balls) finally mistimed a slog sweep and Afridi collected his first wicket as Ahmed Shehzad took the catch and things got more difficult for the batting side after he departed, as Bailey and Finch collected just 20 off the following four overs.


Afridi and Zulfiqar were bowled out by captain Hafeez as he looked to keep key men Ajmal and Gul back for the final overs. Both spinners bowled a good spell, with Afridi removing Australia captain George Bailey (4 off 9) to leave Australia needing 39 from the final four overs, which were bowled by Gul, Ajmal and Bhatti.


Gul continued the Australia slide as he struck in the 17th over, Ajmal redeeming himself by stretching his hand and taking a brilliant catch on the run to remove Brad Hodge (2) and the star spinner bowled his final over – the 18th – conceding just one run and removing the well-set Finch for 65 (54) with a full delivery which rattled the stumps. 


Gul bowled the penultimate over with 30 needed of 12 balls and he conceded just seven runs, including the wicket of Coulter-Nile (0).This left Bilawal Bhatti with a shot at redemption, needing to defend 23 off the final over and he managed it by picking up three wickets, a Starc run out, Hadding (8) and Hogg (3) to wrap up the innings.

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