COLOMBO - Coach Waqar Younis hailed Pakistan's hard-fought four-wicket win over Australia as a major achievement on Sunday and picked out seamer Umar Gul as the star of the show. Gul took 3-30 and Abdul Razzaq claimed 2-8 as Australia were bowled out for 176 in 46.4 overs -- their lowest total since the 1992 World Cup -- before Pakistan foiled Brett Lee's 4-28 to chase down the target with nine overs left.
Saturday's defeat ended Australia's 34-match unbeaten streak at the World Cup, a run stretching back to Pakistan's 10-run victory at Leeds in 1999.
"Definitely it's an achievement to beat Australia," said Waqar, whose team finished top of Group A with 10 points from six matches and will face the fourth-placed team in Group B in Dhaka in the first quarter-final on Wednesday.
Australia ended up with nine points, third behind Sri Lanka on net run-rate, and are likely to play India in Ahmedabad on Thursday. Waqar praised 26-year-old paceman Gul who now has 13 wickets in the tournament. "Gul is improving day by day. He’s found his right length and he’s not only bowling straight but with some pace," said Waqar.
"He’s attacking and I think he’s getting better and better, which is great for the team. "The bowlers deserved a bit more credit than the batsmen. It was not easy out there, it was difficult when we were batting, but we pulled it off," said Waqar. The coach hoped his team keeps the momentum going into the quarter-finals. "After what we have achieved against Australia, now it’s a knockout system so we've got to really start building up again," he added.
"We have to make sure we enjoy this victory, forget it and go to the next one fresh and think of the team we are going to face," said Waqar, whose side is now likely to face either the West Indies or England in the last eight. Waqar said the R Premadasa stadium pitch was not an easy strip. "It wasn’t the easiest pitch to play cricket overall because it was a used pitch. We played a game here and the ball was turning and it was up and down a little bit," said the coach.
"The total of 176 was gettable but the way we got it was maybe a little scratchy at the end but overall it was a superb performance and gives us much needed confidence for the quarter-finals." Pakistan were crusing along at 98-2 before Lee dismissed Younis Khan (31) and Misbha-ul-Haq off successive deliveries.
Mitchell Johnson removed topscorer Asad Shafiq (46) to raise hopes of an Australian win. But Umar Akmal (44 not out) and Razzaq (20 not out) steered Pakistan to victory.