Hurricane Hussey

Michael Hussey seals it for Australia with a huge six.-AP

This match between Australia and Pakistan will go down as a classic. It was a heart-stopping humdinger of several twists. Michael Hussey had the final say. The left-hander's 24-ball unbeaten 60 was as much about explosive strokeplay as placements, as much about aggression as a cool head, writes S. Dinakar.

Michael Hussey lived at the Death. Actually, he conquered. At the heart of it all was Hussey's belief. His assault was sensational; it was a hurricane before the hurricane season in St. Lucia.

The ICC World Twenty20 semifinal between Australia and Pakistan will go down as a classic. This was a heart-stopping humdinger of several twists. Hussey had the final say. The left-hander's 24-ball unbeaten 60 was as much about explosive strokeplay as placements, as much about aggression as a cool head.

Australia, pursuing a stiff 192 and losing wickets at regular intervals, seemed down for the count needing 34 runs from the last two overs with just three wickets remaining.

Hussey turned the contest on its head. He picked 16 runs off left-arm paceman Mohammed Aamer's penultimate over with deft flicks, pushes and jabs into the open spaces and hard running.

Hussey has this knack of gathering runs without the opposition realising it. A nick here, a cut there and soon the adversary is bleeding.

Australia, still, needed 18 from the final over. Then, Mitchell Johnson took a single off the first ball of the final over delivered by off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Hussey, then, cut loose. He struck cleanly, picking the offie from his off-stump, getting under the ball, and hitting long and hard on the on-side.

Three sixes and a four from Hussey's booming blade powered Australia to an astonishing win. The Aussies swarmed the ground in celebration. Hussey had done the impossible.

Shahid Afridi's decision to give the ball to Ajmal ahead of experienced paceman Abdul Razzaq had back-fired. Hussey's incredible display overshadowed a tremendous display by Pakistan; the side played with the fire and passion of old.

Pakistan was in control for most part of the game, but Australia clinched it. It was a tense contest. Australian captain Michael Clarke could not bear to watch the proceedings once Johnson took a single off the first delivery of the last over. He was in the dressing room when he heard a roar and realised it was a six. “Then I heard another roar and told myself ‘what's going on?'” he revealed.

Said Hussey, “There were times when I felt it was not going to be our day. The ball kept lobbing over the fielders when we fielded and then we lost wickets.”

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis was shell-shocked. “What can I say? It was unbelievable. We did everything right. It was an extraordinary innings,” he said. Hussey, indeed, is Australia's great escape artist in the lower middle-order. When things go wrong, he assumes control.

Cameron White was another hero for Australia. The big-hitter has grown in confidence and it shows. White's attacking 43 and his crucial partnership with Hussey kept Australia in the frame.

Aamer, full of promise, struck telling blows at the start and Pakistan, momentum in its favour, seemed to be running away with it. Though the Australians lost wickets, they, crucially, did not fall behind too far in the run-rate.

Earlier, the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, attacked the Australian quicks in a manner that was breathtaking. Shaun Tait and Dirk Nannes faltered by going for pace and lift than bowling with greater control on a slow pitch.

Kamran and the left-handed Salman Butt put Pakistan on course with a breezy and sizable opening partnership. They drove, cut and pulled; the Pakistani supporters in the stands roared. It was inspired batsmanship.

The Aussie pace attack was taken to the cleaners and leg-spinner Steven Smith was not allowed to settle down. Kamran is an intrepid batsman with terrific hand-eye coordination. He picks the length early and strikes through the line. He was destructive with lofted shots that cleared the fence.

Australia came back in the middle overs by taking the pace off the ball, but Umar Akmal provided the thrust to the innings in the end overs.

The talented Umar creates room with deft footwork and wallops the ball with tremendous bat-speed. The young man does not fear reputations and dumps the ball to the far corners of the ground. The Aussies suffered.

“I thought we had conceded 15 runs too many,” conceded Clarke.

Then, Hussey pulled off a miracle. THE SCORES

Pakistan 191 for six in 20 overs (Kamran Akmal 50, Salman Butt 32, Umar Akmal 56 not out) lost to Australia 197 for seven in 19.5 overs (Brad Haddin 25, Cameron White 43, Michael Hussey 60 not out, Mohammad Aamer three for 35).