Taunton: Australian skipper Aaron Finch was a relieved man after his team managed to survive and win a nervy World Cup fixture against Pakistan in Taunton.
Wednesday’s gripping match at the Cooper Associates County Ground saw the defending champions put a formidable total of 307 before bowling out Pakistan for 266.
Going by the scoreline, one can predict it to be a rather comfortable win for the Aussies. However, it was not the case as the match was in firm balance until the late stages of the game.
Pakistan lived up to their “unpredictable” tag and were all but out of the contest at 6-160 during their chase. However, it was a different story at 7-264 after Hasan Ali (32 off 15), Wahab Riaz (45 off 39) and captain Sarfaraz Ahmed (40 off 48) led a big-hitting rearguard action. It was only when Mitchell Starc kept his cool and bowled brilliantly in his ninth over and picked up two wickets which allowed Australia to win the match.
After the match, Finch admitted they were put under pressure by Pakistan’s lower order.
“They certainly did. It’s always tough when you’ve got guys like Hasan and Wahab coming out and swinging,” he said at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“When they start to get on a roll it can be tough to stop. We just had to bowl our best ball, whether that was a length ball or whether it was a yorker. You had to commit to that ball 100 per cent. We saw that if your execution is slightly off on a small ground like this you go for six,” he added.
Earlier, after put into bat, Australia made a commanding start as both Finch and David Warner added 146 runs for the opening wicket. Warner went to score his first 100 of the ongoing tournament. However, once Warner got out, Australia lost wickets in a heap and were eventually bundled out for 307 in 49 overs.
“We didn’t bat out 50 overs, which was really disappointing. When you go in with the extra batter you stack the batters to do that job,” said Finch while ruing the fact his team didn’t play full quota of 50 overs.
“We probably tried to go a little bit too hard too early and ended up probably 20-30 runs short,” he added.
Meanwhile, Sarfaraz expressed disappointment and said his top four batsmen need to score runs if they want to win. He also said that Pakistan bowlers came back well after disappointing opening spells allowed Australia to have a flying start.
“We conceded too many runs in the first 20 overs. Except for Amir the other bowlers did not bowl really well,” Sarfaraz said.
“If we want to win, the top four have to make runs,” he added.
Pakistan will next face India in what is expected to be a high-octane encounter between the arch-rivals in Manchester on Sunday.