Usama let the ball slip out of his grasp. The match was also gone from that moment on. The opening partners in crime David Warner and Mitchell Marsh ripped apart the Pakistan bowling lineup to bring back-to-back victories for the five-time champions Australia. It was a rather one-sided affair for the most part, Australian bowlers provided the finishing touch to an impressive victory. Pakistan’s team was bruised, and battered and has a lot to ponder about if they harbor any hope of reaching the knockout stage of the tournament.
In-form Aussie batter Travis Head traveled to India on Thursday as he still nurses a fractured arm. The destructive opener will be available for selection in the game against the Netherlands on Wednesday. Australia played with an unchanged eleven that beat Sri Lanka in the previous match. Josh Inglis is still being preferred to the more experienced Alex Carey. Pakistan made one alteration to the team that got hammered against arch-rivals India. Shadab Khan was surprisingly axed from the team, and young leg spinner Usama Mir took his spot.
- David Warner 2. Mitchell Marsh 3. Glenn Maxwell 4. Steve Smith 5. Marcus Stoinis 6. Josh Inglis (WK) 7. Marnus Labuschagne 8. Pat Cummins (Cap.) 9. Mitchell Starc 10. Josh Hazlewood 11. Adam Zampa
- Abdullah Shafique 2. Imam-Ul-Haq 3. Babar Azam (Cap.) 4. Mohammad Rizwan (WK) 5. Saud Shakeel 6. Iftikhar Ahmed 7. Mohammad Nawaz 8. Usama Mir 9. Shaheen Afridi 10. Hasan Ali 11. Haris Rauf
Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the coin toss and his decision to bat first on a flat Chinnaswamy track raised a few eyebrows.
|Venue||The 18th game of the 2023 World Cup was played at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium in Chennai, Tamil Nadu.|
|Date||The game started from 02:00 pm IST on Friday, October 20|
Captaincy & Tactics
Babar Azam’s captaincy has come under severe scrutiny over the last six months. He is a serious batsman on any pitch but lacks innovation when it comes to leading his team from the front. He removed Shaheen Shah Afridi after the 7th over of the Australian innings, the towering left-arm seamer would not return until the 33rd over. By then, most of the damage has already been done with both Aussie openers cruising to individual hundreds. Shaheen then picked up two in two balls, further emphasizing the mistakes of Babar’s approach.
Babar’s opposite number Patrick Cummins has also seen his leadership questioned during his short tenure. The Australian captain has answered his critics with an aggressive approach and smart bowling choices.
Adam Zampa was given the stage to flourish with an attacking fielding. Josh Hazlewood was used perfectly to rein in the Pakistani batters. He also came into the attack at a crucial time and removed Saud Shakeel. It was refreshing to see Cummins willing to adapt and improvise with the demands of the game situation.
David Warner now has 7 World Cup centuries, breathing down the neck of Rohit Sharma who has 8. The modern-day great from Sydney was back to his vintage best: combining grace with power. He picked up 14 fours and 9 sixes in his innings: exactly 100 runs from boundaries. Despite surviving two scares, Warner batted with an aura of authority with 84% control. Warner averages 61.00 and scored 1220 runs in the World Cup tournaments so far, the Aussie fans will help this continue.
Mitchell Marsh finally comes good at the top of the order with a muscle-powered hundred. The burly all-rounder may see him demoted down the order with the imminent return of Travis Head. Marsh averages 59.25 on Indian soil, a number that will indicate his efficacy as a white ball batter. He was deadly on the front foot and played 61% of his shots by moving his body forward. Marsh used the cut shot well, 21 runs scored from this particular stroke.
The rest of the Australian order failed to capitalize on a solid foundation. Glenn Maxwell got out on the first ball, a characteristic wild swing leading to his demise. Steve Smith looked tentative at best, his short stay ended by a chip back to the bowler.
Josh Inglis looked good with two boundaries, he got out cheaply as well. Marcus Stoinis struggled to find the singles and the twos. The consistent failure of the middle order will be a cause of concern for the Aussie camp as the tournament enters its business stage.
Abdullah Shafique has impressed in his short white ball career, he times the ball well with aplomb. But the asking rate was on a constant climb, both he and Imam got out in pursuit of upping the ante.
Babar Azam was determined to leave his bad run of form behind with two exquisite shots played. He has scored only 83 runs at an average of 20.75 in India, a statistic that must improve if Pakistan wants to bring back the World Cup after a 31-year-long wait.
The hero of the Sri Lanka game Mohammad Rizwan was proactive, he hit 5 boundaries on his way to 46. Iftikhar Ahmed was the ideal man for these types of occasions with his ability to hit the long ball. He justified the hype with 3 massive sixes, two of them coming from the same Cummins over. His 130.00 strike rate innings was short-lived though, a quickfire 26 from 20 balls. The lower order quickly capitulated, and Pakistan lost their last six wickets for just 36 runs.
Shaheen Afridi may be coming for the McGrath record for the most wickets at the World Cup. The pacer has 25 wickets from just 9 matches at an average of 17.08. He pitched the ball short at the batsman, leaving no room for maneuver. It was his second 5+ wicket haul, the first came against Bangladesh in 2019 (6/35)
Haris Rauf met some familiar faces on the field with the fast bowler being a regular fixture in the BBL franchise setup. But the fast bowler from Rawalpindi was not shown any leniency as the Australian openers continuously whacked him all over the ground. He reached the 50 mark within 22 balls, a day he would try to erase from his memory. Rauf conceded 5 sixes and 8 fours in his 8 overs.
Josh Hazlewood has drawn comparisons with the great Glenn McGrath for his lanky frame and ability to accurately bowl on the outside offline. On a day when the bowlers were constantly tormented by the batters, the pacer is a shining exception with a 3.7 economy rate. His outstanding control with the new ball and vicious short balls did not let Pakistan out of sight.
Marcus Stoinis has bowled with the new ball in a recent series against South Africa. He returned to his more familiar role of filling up the quota as the sixth bowler and produced a fine performance. He gave his captain a much-needed first breakthrough by removing Shafique and came back to dismiss his opening partner Imam as well.
Adam Zampa struggled in the first two games, so did Australia. The leg spinner is currently the most influential figure in the Australian white ball setup. He is back to his supreme form with 8 wickets from the last two games. His skidded delivery was too good for Iftikhar who was trapped in front.
Mohammad Rizwan missed the ball while attempting a sweep shot and was also trapped. The best was kept for the last though, Nawaz was snared and stumped on the last delivery bowled by Zampa. 4 wickets for 53 runs from 10 overs – a leg spin extraordinaire waving his magic wand in India.
Pakistan’s fielding effort usually leaves a lot to desire, but on this occasion, it was like staring at a bottomless pit. Usama Mir relinquished an easy chance to dismiss David Warner, giving the opener an early reprieve. Warner was also dropped after completing his 100, this time by Abdullah Shafique who was fielding at deep. Mir dropped a shard chance of dismissing Marsh off his bowling. Captain Babar Azam failed to pouch an edge from Steve Smith. Australia could have been restricted under 300 if the chances were taken.
Australia had fielding woes of their own in the first two games that failed to match their usual world-class standard. There were a few missed chances in this match also, but the level of performance has massively improved. Pat Cummins reacted quickly at midwicket to claim the prized wicket of Babar Azam.
Marcus Stoinis ran for about 20 yards and took an outstanding catch over his shoulders under the floodlights. Josh Inglis displayed outstanding glove work by stumping Mohammad Nawaz out and taking a good catch to remove Hasan Ali.
David Warner and Mitchell Marsh re-coded a partnership for the ages to put Australia in a commanding position. Shaheen Afridi was the only shining light on a gloomy-looking bowling scorecard with a five-wicket haul to his name. Haris Rauf picked up 3 wickets but was expensive with 83 conceded from just 8 overs.
Imam-Ul-Haq scored 70 and his opening partner Abdullah Shafique added 64 runs to keep the Pakistani hopes alive in a 100+ first-wicket partnership. Adam Zampa had other ideas, the crafty wrist-spinner claimed 4 wickets for the second game running to dismantle the Pakistan middle order.
Marcus Stonis impressed with the old ball and secured a couple of scalps. The skinner Cummins also got two to his name to round up a fine day of Aussie performance.
David Warner was batting at 10 with Australia getting off to a flyer. Shaheen Afridi was steaming in as Pakistan was desperate for some early inroad. Afridi pitched it short on an outside offline to tempt the batsman. David Warner was obliged to attempt a wild pull shot. The timing was horrible and it flew off the top edge.
Usama Mir was fielding at mid-on, he had enough time to watch the ball closely. But he somehow managed to let the ball hit his chest and fell to the ground. The ludicrous moment left a distraught Shaheen on his knees in despair. The catch eventually cost the game for the Pakistanis, Warner ended up with a brilliant ton to steer Australia to a run mountain.
Australia beat Pakistan by a healthy margin of 62 runs to record their second win in a row.
Player of the Match
For his match-defining knock of 163 runs from 124 balls, David Warner was unanimously chosen as the best player of the match.
|Australia Total: 367/9 (50 overs)||Pakistan Total: 305/10 (45.3 overs)|
|David Warner 163 (124)||Imam-Ul-Haque 70 (71)|
|Mitchell Marsh 121 (108)||Abdullah Shafique 64 (61)|
|Shaheen Afridi 5/54||Adam Zampa 4/53|
|Haris Rauf 3/83||Marcus Stoinis 2/40|
Australia’s mammoth opening stand turned out to be the match-winner against an errant Pakistani side. The 1992 World Cup winners were wayward with the bowl and a horrendous fielding performance did not help the cause at all. Australia finally breaks into the top 4 of the World Cup table by securing 4 points from the last 2 games. The Pakistan team will have to reassess their situation as they face a tough test against Afghanistan in the next game. Australia will look to stretch their run to three against the Netherlands on Wednesday.