Aussies, Pakistan win

  • Last Updated: September 29 2012, 8:14 BST

Australia and Pakistan both took big steps towards the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals with victories on Friday.

Shane Watson: Australia's match-winner

Shane Watson blitzed India with runs and wickets as the Aussies raced to a nine-wicket win at the Premadasa Stadium.

Watson (72) and his opening partner David Warner (63 not out) gorged 10 sixes between them, in a stand of 133, after the former had also taken three for 34 to restrict India to 140 for seven.

India, whose last outing at this venue was their own 90-run Group A trouncing of off-colour England, were on the other side of an unequal equation this time as Australia finished them off with more than five overs to spare.

Watson began patiently before topping and tailing Piyush Chawla's first over - the eighth - with a six over mid-wicket to start and then a second maximum back over the leg-spinner's head to finish. Warner joined in with successive leg-side sixes off Harbhajan Singh in the next over, and Australia were already on track to complete their task notably early in this Super Eight match.

Watson repeated the same dose of double maximums when Mahendra Singh Dhoni brought Irfan Pathan into the attack, and for good measure he passed his 28-ball fifty with his first four - off his pads - to go with six sixes.

Warner had a close call for lbw against Zaheer Khan on 21, and was dropped caught-behind by Dhoni off Yuvraj Singh on 45.

Watson, by contrast, gave no chances until he was caught at cover off Yuvraj - a wicket which came far too late to make any difference to the outcome in an extraordinarily one-sided contest.

India had to work hard for what seemed initially to be a near-par total, after winning the toss, Pathan top-scoring with 31 at better than a run a ball.

Pathan, opening with Gautam Gambhir as India again chose to leave out Virender Sehwag, provided the stability others could not.

But his was the second of three wickets to fall for four runs, in the 70s, and India therefore needed some productivity from their middle and lower order. Gambhir was run out when Pat Cummins kicked the ball on to the stumps to effect the first dismissal of the match.

Then Pathan apart, none of India's specialist batsmen managed to establish himself - and it was only some late hitting from Suresh Raina, down at an unaccustomed number seven, and R Ashwin that gave them a score they could even hope to defend.

If they thought they might have enough runs, they very quickly discovered otherwise.

Earlier in the day, Umar Akmal and Umar Gul led a superb fightback as Pakistan snatched a two-wicket victory against South Africa in a thrilling opening match in Group Two.

Despite chasing a modest 134 for victory, Pakistan looked destined for defeat as they slumped to 76 for seven in the 15th over, needing 58 runs off the final 30 balls.

However, Akmal and Gul joined forces to turn the game on its head in an eighth-wicket partnership worth 49 in just 4.3 overs.

Man of the match Gul provided much of the momentum as he smashed three sixes and two fours in a 17-ball 32 before falling to the final ball of the penultimate over.

That left Pakistan needing nine off the last over and Akmal clubbed a Morne Morkel full toss for six off the second ball before Saeed Ajmal sealed the victory with a guided four off the fourth.

Akmal finished unbeaten on 43 off 41 deliveries, having also struck four other boundaries to go with that maximum.

South Africa were earlier limited to 133 for six after suffering a poor start in Colombo.

They lost Hashim Amla (six), Richard Levi (eight) and Jacques Kallis (12) as they struggled to 28 for three after six overs, before JP Duminy and AB de Villiers led a recovery.

Duminy put on 38 for the fourth wicket with Farhaan Behardien (18) before adding 44 with captain De Villiers to help South Africa into three figures before both fell in the closing overs.

The Proteas' total looked below par, and Pakistan were quickly making in-roads into their target as captain Mohammad Hafeez and Imran Nazir put on a rapid 24 for the first wicket.

However, South Africa hit back in emphatic fashion with three breakthroughs in seven balls.

Paceman Dale Steyn made the first, having Nazir caught behind by De Villiers for 14, before spinner Robin Peterson struck twice in his first over, bouncing back from being smashed for six off his opening delivery by having Hafeez (15) and Nasir Jamshed (nought) stumped.

That was the start of a collapse that saw Pakistan in all sorts of trouble but, just when it appeared as though South Africa were cruising to victory, Akmal and Gul combined to dramatic effect.