Colombo: Tuesday's events at the Premadasa are a cruel reminder to Australia that they still haven't mastered the art of playing spin on subcontinent wickets. How else would you explain their inept performance against the Pakistan spinners! No amount of IPL or bilateral series will be able to cure this.
The tactical acumen of Dav Whatmore and Mohammed Hafeez paid off once they knew that their chance lay with their spinners. They relied on them and used all five until Umar Gul was introduced in the 18th over.
The Australians, who made a mockery of their low rankings they carried into the World T20 with four wins from four matches before Tuesday, crashed to a 32-run loss.
George Bailey's men, though, managed to reach the 112-run mark they required to make their qualification for the semis a certainty while knocking South Africa out.
Australia never found the momentum to their innings as Mohammed Hafeez and Raza Hasan crippled them with some accurate and disciplined bowling. There was no extraordinary turn on the wicket but the spinners showed immense maturity and control in restricting Australia to 101 for five in the 17 th over.
Gul gave away only four runs in his first over, and then Ajmal took two wickets in the 19th over off consecutive deliveries as the doors were shut on Australia. Michael Hussey's challenging unbeaten 54 off 47 balls wasn't enough as there was none to back his efforts.
Hafeez, Man of the Match Raza and Saeed Ajmal did the damage while exposing the frail Australia middle-order. The left-arm spinner tied the Aussies in knots once Watson was trapped leg before. Warner left in the next over as chaos and tension gripped the Australian ranks.
Bailey's decision to field was in keeping with their track record in the tournament where they have won all their matches chasing. It was mainly because of Nasir Jamshed and Kamran Akmal's 79-run partnership that Pakistan reached 149 for six. The swing and pace of Mitchell Starc (3/20) rattled their line-up as the left-arm pacer combined with Watson to reduce Pakistan to 29 for two in the sixth over.
Starc had Hafeez leg before with his first ball and should have also had Jamshed for a duck. The 22-year-old survived a sharp chance off the second ball when Glenn Maxwell failed to latch on to it at first slip.
Jamshed gradually found his touch and his 55 off 46 balls showed that he is cut out for the big league. More importantly, he tried to put the innings on a firm foothold. Only last month he had played a match-winning 97 against Australia during the second one-day International in Dubai.
There was no looking back thereafter. Jamshed hooked Pat Cummins for a six and followed it up with one over long on off Xavier Doherty in the next over. He found ample time to play his strokes and was unruffled in the face of pace.
But it was the left-arm spinner who had his revenge when Jamshed's attempt to go over the top landed in Warner's hands on the boundary ropes.