A rejuvenated Pakistan brought their campaign back on track as they rode on Umar Akmal's scintillating 54-ball 94 to register a 16-run victory over
tournament favourites Australia in the ICC World T20 in Mirpur on Sunday.
In the end, Glenn Maxwell's belligerent 33-ball-74 wasn't enough for Australia to chase down the formidable total in this group league encounter.
After posting 191 for five, Pakistan bowled out Australia, who were in the chase till the 15th over, for 175.
The win ensured that Pakistan stayed in the competition, having lost their opening game to India.
While 'Maxwell-Mayhem' blew apart the Pakistanis in the first 10 overs, the bowlers led by the ever-dependable Saeed Ajmal (1-33) and veteran Shahid Afridi (2-30), made a comeback and the Aussies frittered in their chase after Maxwell was gone.
The turning point was the 18th over bowled by Ajmal in which he gave only one run and also dismissed Aaron Finch (64, 55 balls), who was still carrying on the chase.
If Umar Akmal's knock was a brilliant effort, Maxwell's power-hitting would have swept everyone off their feet. Each of his six sixes were clean hits.
Opposition skipper Hafeez tried to peg him back bowling on his legs but he swept him out off the ground on one occasion and hit him over deep mid-wicket the other time. When Afridi drifted on the pads, he swept over square.
While Maxwell was on a hitting mission, Finch quietly accumulated runs with occasional fours and sixes as they added 118 runs in 10.4 overs.
The watershed moment was the eighth over bowled by Bilawal Bhatti that cost 30 runs. Maxwell hit him for two maximums, apart from a couple of boundaries, to complete his maiden 50 in that over.
When Ajmal tried to push in a quicker one, he was hit towards the deep mid-wicket region. A flighted one on the leg-middle was swept as the first 10 overs produced 117 runs.
Maxwell was finally caught by Ahmed Shehzad off Afridi's bowling to raise hopes of a Pakistan comeback. Finch completed his 50 off 44 balls with five fours and two sixes as skipper George Bailey (4) was bowled by Afridi. Brad Hodge also didn't stay for long and was caught in the deep by Ajmal off Umar Gul's bowling. Once Finch was bowled by Ajmal, Pakistan victory was sealed.
Earlier, it was Akmal's superb knock and his 96-run partnership with elder brother Kamran (31), which helped Pakistan post a formidable total.
Shehzad (5) tried to pull one from Doug Bollinger that kicked up from back of the length and the skier was taken by the bowler himself. Skipper Mohammed Hafeez hit a couple of fours but Shane Watson bowled one fuller and he played all over it to get bowled.
At 25 for two, Umar joined Kamran and the two brothers counter-attacked the Australian bowling in a swift manner. While Kamran was happy playing the second fiddle, Umar showed why he is such a highly rated batsman in world cricket.
He was dropped at deep square leg boundary by Brad Hogg when he was on 22 but no one can take away the complete authority with which he played the Aussie bowling.
If they bowled full on the off-stump, he thumped it over the extra cover region. When they bowled on the leg-middle line, he converted length deliveries into full-toss and hit them over mid-wicket for a six.
Of the four sixes, one each were hit off Watson and Starc respectively, while the other two were off Finch's slow left-arm spin. Both were half trackers and were deposited into deep mid-wicket stand. His 50 came off 28 deliveries.
Kamran was gone for a run-a-ball 31, holing out in the deep by Warner off Coultier-Nile's bowling, but Umar continued to play his strokes even as Pakistan lost Sohaib Maqsood (5) cheaply. Umar was six short of a well-deserved century when he gave Mitchell Starc the charge but couldn't clear Maxwell at long-on.
Image: Pakistan's Mohammad Hafeez celebrates their victory against Australia with teammates after their ICC Twenty20 World Cup match at the Sher-E-Bangla National Cricket Stadium in Dhaka
Photo: REUTERS/Andrew Biraj