Putting up an impressive show, Australia reached the semi-finals of the cricket World Cup as they defeated Pakistan by six wickets in the third quarter-final at the Adelaide Oval here.
Fast bowlers Josh Hazzlewood (4-35) and Mitchell Starc (2-40) and spinner Glenn Maxwell (2-43) helped Australia bowl out Pakistan for 213 in 49.5 overs. Several Pakistani batsmen got starts but failed to make it count.
In reply, Australia got over the line in 33.5 overs with the help of Steven Smith (65) and Shane Watson (68 not out).
Opener Aaron Finch (2) and David Warner (23) fell early as Pakistan looked to take early wickets. Especially, left-armer seamer Wahab Riaz bowled with full steam and fire.
He removed Warner and skipper Michael Clarke (8) to leave the hosts reeling at 59/3 in the 11th over.
However, rising star Smith and experienced Watson forged an 89-run partnership for the fourth wicket to take their side nearer to the target.
While Smith registered his sixth One-Day International (ODI) fifty, Watson recorded his 33rd half-century.
After Smith fell to Ehsan Adil, Maxwell came to the middle and blasted a 29-ball 44 to remain not out along with Watson.
Pakistan also let Australia get away by dropping two crucial catches off Riaz. Watson was batting on four when he was dropped by Rahat Ali at fine-leg.
Later, Maxwell also got a reprieve early during his knock as Sohail Khan dropped a miscued shot at third man.
Earlier, electing to bat, Pakistan struggled from the beginning. Right-handed openers Ahmed Shehzad (5) and Sarfraz Ahmed (10) lost their wickets by playing bad shots.
Sarfraz chased an away moving delivery from pacer Starc to offer a diving catch to Watson at the slips. Shehzad also fell soon. The 23-year-old played away from the body and gave a regulation catch to Michael Clarke at the slips off fast bowler Hazzlewood.
Later, several batsmen got starts but failed to make it count and that proved detrimental for Pakistan.
With his team at 24/2 in the sixth over, skipper and ever reliable Misbah-ul-Haq (34) joined young Haris Sohail (41) in the middle. The right-left combination exercised damage control with a 73-run stand for the third wicket.
Misbah, who will quit One-Day International (ODI) cricket after this World Cup, seemed once again to be a stabilising factor. A flourishing partnership steadied things for Pakistan for a while.
But the 40-year-old Misbah attempted a slog-sweep off spinner Glenn Maxwell that failed to clear Aaron Finch at deep mid-wicket. The skipper left the scene with his team in a spot of bother at 97/3 in the 24th over.
Sohail soon followed his captain to the pavilion as he ended up edging a Mitchell Johnson bouncer into the hands of wicketkeeper Brad Haddin.
With these two wickets, Pakistan were pushed on the backfoot and failed to recover. Talented Umar Akmal (20) also failed to get going, while veteran Shahid Afridi played true to his character.
Irrespective of his team’s precarious situation, the former captain swung his bat at will and made a 15-ball 23. Often blamed as someone who does not show responsibility, Afridi was holed out at deep mid-wicket off a Hazzlewood delivery.
Sohaib Maqsood (29), Riaz (16) and Adil (15) ensured that Pakistan crossed the 200-run mark.
For Australia, Hazzlewood was the pick of the lot as he took four wickets for 35 runs in hus full quota of 10 overs. Left-armer Starc and Maxwell picked two wickets apiece. Seamers Johnson and James Faulkner took a wicket each.
All these contributed to Pakistan’s agony. With such a small target, the Australian team that bats deep, were always the favourites to win.
In the second semi-final on March 26, Australia will meet defending champions India, who thrashed Bangladesh in the second last eight contest on Thursday.
Brief scores: Pakistan 213 all out in 49.5 overs (Haris Sohail 41, Misbah-ul-Haq 34; Josh Hazzlewood 4-35, Mitchell Starc 2-40, Glenn Maxwell 2-43) lose to Australia 216/4 in 33.5 overs (Shane Watson 68 not out, Steven Smith 65, Maxwell 44 not out; Wahab Riaz 2-54, Ehsan Adil 1-31).