India were knocked out of the ICC Twenty Twenty despite winning their game against South Africa. This happened because a demoralized Pakistan team lifted itself up brilliantly to bat in the manner that they did and then their bowlers restricted Australia.
The Pakistani win was not a surprise since they had just beaten the Australians in two out of the three T20 match series in the United Arab Emirates, but it was the margin of their win that raised many an Indian eyebrow. When a team knows that it has already qualified for the knockout stages then it can afford to make changes in its team and play a little casually and with lesser intensity than they would if they had a must win game, but the Australians take every game seriously or at least that is what we are made to believe.
Their cross batted shot making not only lost them the game, but almost cost them a place in the semi finals. They had used their feet superbly against the Indian spin attack and played them with straight bats and hit them over the infield with what are called conventional shots.
If they had lost by a lesser margin then India would have had to win with just one run less than that margin so if they had lost by say 10 runs, India would have had to win by nine runs if they batted first, but 32 runs is tough even against the minnows and India were never going to be able to do that against the South Africans.
Pakistan now take on Sri Lanka in the first semi finals and with both teams high on confidence after their big wins in their last super eight games, it promises to be a thriller. The Sri Lankans will have the home advantage for sure and their players are gelling well.
They also have in Mahela Jayawardene, a shrewd skipper, and a batsman, who is good not just off both front foot and back but who, also has the best hands in the business. When he has to hit the ball in front of the wicket he powers it away with the top left hand and when it is to be played behind the stumps he deftly does it with the bottom right hand. Kumar Sangakkara and Dilshan did not get runs in the last game so they are due for runs too.
Pakistan will have to sort its batting order and too much tinkering with it is not helping them. Nasir Jamshed is hitting the ball well and is in good form so he should play as many deliveries as possible. Umar Akmal is another, who should get to bat higher up the order. Imran Nazir will always be a hit or miss player and on his day make life miserable for the opposition and Afridi too should come off sooner than later.
Pakistan cleverly used its spinners against the Australians and also beefed up their batting and that served them well. It will be interesting to see if they will use those tactics against a subcontinent team. That and how they tackle Lasith Malinga will decide if they go on to the next stage or not.