Pat Cummins-led Australia overcame a spirited Pakistan to seal a 62-run win victory in the 2023 World Cup clash at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. The victory has been a perfect comeback from the five-time champions after losing to India and South Africa, completing back-to-back wins to storm into semi-final contention.
Despite a late collapse from Australia, capped by Shaheen Shah Afridi's brilliant fifer, their opening batters' onslaught gave them more than enough to defend. David Warner and Mitchell Marsh went hammer and tongs on Pakistan's bowling attack and built a 259-run partnership.
The pair reached the magical three-figure mark in the 31st over of the game and put their side well on track for a total of over 400. However, Marsh's wicket at 121 - one of Shaheen's 5 - spelt a slowdown for Australia. Glenn Maxwell and Steve Smith perished cheaply, while David Warner went for a colossal 163, defeated by Haris Rauf's clever variation. Small contributions from the likes of Marcus Stoinis, Josh Inglis, and Marnus Labuschagne dragged Australia in the death overs to what seemed like a satisfactory score of 367 in the end.
Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique's solid partnership give Pakistan hope:
It took something special to break Pakistan's opening stand, which didn't simmer out overly aggressive, but scored at a clip good enough to keep their side in the game. Marcus Stoinis' magic arm did the trick as he struck with his first ball to send Abdullah Shafique back and returned to scalp Imam-ul-Haq as well.
The most decisive breakthrough came from Adam Zampa as Pat Cummins took a brilliant catch at short mid-wicket to get rid of Babar Azam for 18 off 14 balls. Saud Shakeel and Mohammad Rizwan took the game forward before Cummins dealt them another blow by getting the former. It seemed like Iftikhar Ahmed will prove to be the game-changer as he hit three sixes, including a couple off Cummins.
Nevertheless, Zampa proved to be a better match-up for Iftikhar as Australia edged ahead once again. The leggie dealt another blow in his very next over as Rizwan tried to go for the sweep and was beaten, with the umpire's call being upheld eventually.
It was only a matter of time from then as Australia sent Pakistan tumbling to a second consecutive loss in the tournament.