ADELAIDE–March 20, 2015: Australia overcame a spirited fight from Pakistan to register a six-wicket win in the quarter-final in Adelaide on Friday to storm into the World Cup semi-finals.
But it needed half-centuries from Steven Smith and Shane Watson which helped Australia overcome a fiery spell from Wahab Riaz who at one point threatened to take the game away from the co-hosts despite Pakistan defending a below-par total of 213 runs on a batting-friendly Adelaide Oval pitch.
Wahab's two early wickets had reduced Australia to 59 for three in the 11th over before Steve Smith (65) and Shane Watson (64 not out) steadied the ship during their fourth-wicket stand of 89.
Pakistan rued a drop catch of Watson, only at four then, with Rahat Ali grassing a sitter at deep fine-leg and it spoiled Wahab's fiery effort. Glenn Maxwell smashed an unbeaten 44 off 29 balls with five fours and two sixes as Australia recovered to coast home in the 34th over in front of a full house of nearly 47,000 spectators. But Maxwell too was dropped early on in the first over of Wahab’s second spell at wide third man by Sohail Khan.
Wahab had removed David Warner and skipper Michael Clarke in his first two overs, as the Australian captain fended at a short ball and lobbed an easy catch to Sohaib Maqsood close to the wicket on the on-side.
Australia's eighth consecutive win over Pakistan on their own soil set up an enticing semi-final clash against defending champions India at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Thursday.
Pakistan's defeat ended the one-day international careers of two veterans in skipper Misbah-ul Haq and all-rounder Shahid Afridi.
Having won the toss and elected to bat, Pakistan were shot out for 213, with one ball to spare, as fast bowler Josh Hazlewood grabbed four and Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell took two wickets apiece.
Haris Sohail's 41 was the top score. Three other batsmen settled down to get to their twenties but were unable to build on their starts.
Pakistan's batting imploded after Misbah-ul Haq elected to take first strike, with Haris Sohail's 41 being the top score on what turned out to be an even-paced pitch ideal for big totals.
The last-wicket pair of Ehsan Adil and Rahat Ali kept the bowlers at bay for almost six overs, adding 18 runs to lift Pakistan beyond the 200-run mark.
Pakistan lost both openers by the sixth over as Sarfraz Ahmed fell to a smart catch at first slip by Watson off Starc and Ahmed Shehzad edged Hazlewood to second slip.
Misbah had a lucky escape off the second ball he faced when a Hazlewood delivery brushed his pad and clipped the leg stump, only for the bail to stay in its groove.
It was the second such incident in this World Cup with Ireland's Ed Joyce being the first beneficiary in the game against the United Arab Emirates in Brisbane on February 25.
Misbah, Pakistan's batting saviour in the tournament with four half-centuries in six pool matches, took advantage of his good fortune to add 73 for the third wicket with Haris.
Misbah pulled off-spinner Maxwell over mid-wicket for two sixes but, having made 34, fell to a catch in the deep while attempting a similar shot in the same bowler's second spell.
It was a disappointing end to a promising innings by the 40-year-old who, like team-mate Shahid Afridi, was playing his last one-day international in case of Pakistan losing the fixture.
Left-handed Haris' disciplined innings ended when Mitchell Johnson forced an edge on the drive outside off-stump after the batsman had ducked under a bouncer off the previous delivery.
Umar Akmal (20) fell into the same trap set for Misbah as he pulled a short ball from Maxwell straight to Aaron Finch on the mid-wicket fence, reducing Pakistan to 124 for five in the 30th over.
Afridi began with two boundaries off Maxwell and then cut Johnson to point for a six, but his entertaining 23 off 15 balls ended when he pulled Hazlewood high to Finch for his third catch at mid-wicket.
Afridi's dismissal off the last ball of the 34th over meant Pakistan had lost their most destructive batsman just six deliveries before the batting powerplay was to be taken in the 36th over.