We’re in the age of ‘close encounter’ cricket matches and they are being produced on a daily basis. Especially, with an overdose of T20 format, such thrillers seem to have a short-lived impact on cricket addicts. They are aimed at entertaining us by the virtue of maximizing runs in the least amount of time. Yes, it has become a batsman’s game. And somehow, the old-fashioned textbook batting is almost fading away. Present day match winners often have a spectacular series of hits and misses because of this demanding format.
There are only a handful of precedents etched in our active memory when a player single-handedly took the game away from the jaws of a huge defeat.
So today, lets dive into the past and re-live T20I No. 176.
ICC World Twenty20, 2nd Semi-Final: Australia vs Pakistan at Gros Islet, May 14, 2010
After losing the toss, Pakistan had rocked the island of St. Lucia by scoring 191-6 in their 20 Overs. Umar and Kamran Akmal replied with quick-fire 50s against the likes of Johnson, Tait, Nannes, and company. This pitch was a batting paradise amongst all the bouncy Caribbean tracks.
In response, Australia had a bad start to their batting. Openers were back in the pavilion within 15 balls. It only got worse with the middle order failing to score freely and Mohammed Amir making the most of his opportunity. In no time, the mighty Aussies were 105-5. They still needed 87 from 45. All hopes were on their T20 specialist Cameron White, 31*, still at the crease. At No. 7, in came, Michael Hussey to play the supporting role while White tried to resist a confident Pakistani bowling attack. We had not witnessed an Australian batting collapse in a long time.
It was now that Shahid Afridi had succeeded in controlling Cameron White by making it hard to hit the big shots. The Australian scoreboard was crawling at 5 runs per over by nudging singles here and there. Out of the blue, Mike Hussey whacked Afridi for 2 sixes over mid-wicket. Australia was 130-5, and surprisingly, Mike Hussey hit the panic button. He was nicely knocking the ball picking up ones and twos but soon lofted a full toss to Hafeez. Was this the defining moment for Pakistan? It got reassured when the newcomer Steve Smith lasted exactly 4. What does this mean? 4 balls or 4 runs?
Australia was 149-7 and needed 43 runs from 15 balls to win, which translates into a required rate of 17.2. Celebrations had begun in the Pakistan camp as they were within the touching distance of their 3rd consecutive T20 World Cup Final. Only a dependable test batsman, Mike Hussey stood between Pakistan and a well-earned victory. To ensure things pan out exactly in his favor, Afridi tightened the field by bringing people up in the 30-yard circle. An aggressive field strategy!
Without wasting any time Hussey went all guns blazing, and got a couple of boundaries and a six. It was too late and expert opinion had tilted towards Pak as 30 were needed from the last 11 Balls. Hussey and Mitchell Johnson were still focusing on singles and doubles to narrow the gap of defeat.
By getting a boundary on the last ball of the 19th over, Hussey had limited 18 runs for victory in the final over. At the striker’s end was Johnson. And Afridi had put his best man on job for the final over, Saeed Ajmal.
19.1: Johnson took a single. Hussey got back on strike.
19.2: Hussey, deep in the crease, hits a big SIX over mid-wicket. A cold-blooded pull shot.
For the first time in 39.2 overs, Pakistan looked nervous.
19.3: Hussey absolutely bludgeoned Ajmal for a stupendous 94 meter SIX over long-on. Reaching a personal milestone of 50*(22). Strike Rate of 227.2 for a proven test player.
Suddenly 5 from 3 needed. Australians were right back in the game. All they needed was sensible shots from Hussey to take them home.
19.4: Mike Hussey goes for wild slog on a half volley towards cover. Edged it so hard, went up in the air, fielder at point almost caught the ball but couldn’t stop the boundary. Heart in the mouth moment but this day simply belonged to Mike Hussey now!
Australia needed 1 run from 2 balls. The dug had risen up to witness an unbelievable moment which wasn’t possible 4 balls ago. Pakistan had let go of this match.
19.5: All he needed was a single knocked around. But he violently thrashed Ajmal’s penultimate delivery for flat six over log on. Only to clinch Autralia’s most famous win in T20 cricket. Hussey 60*(24) and Johnson 5*(3).
Australia 197 for 7 (Mike Hussey 60*, White 43) beat Pakistan 191 for 6 (Umar 56, Kamran 50) by three wickets and 1 ball to spare.
Match is remembered for resilience of one man, Mike Hussey who emerged as a match winner on the world’s biggest stage. He broke the shackles of twisted fashionable shots to gain momentum, but instead kept calm and played wisely.
Some of the headlines next day said..
Freakish Hussey performs a miracle
Michael Hussey stuns Pakistan
For cricket lovers, this was not about how Pakistan lost it. But in the end it was more about how Australia won it.