Losing to Australia can help us, says Younus

Pakistan captain Younus Khan was unfazed by his side’s loss to Australia in their final Champions Trophy round-robin match on Wednesday, which he felt was probably a good thing as they head into the knockout stage.

Australia’s two-wicket win off the last ball at SuperSport Park placed them at the top of Group A, and the title holders will face England in Centurion Friday while Pakistan play Group B winners New Zealand at the Wanderers on Saturday.

But while the game was turned on its head in the last 10 overs with Pakistan’s bowlers ripping through the Australian middle order, Pakistan should have been thumped.

Showing little intent of putting up a big total when batting first, having already qualified for the play-offs, they reached a modest 205-6 after losing the toss, and only the late collapse of the Australian middle-order brought them back into the game.

But Younus said he wasn’t worried about their first loss of the competition, as long as it didn’t come in a more crucial encounter.

“It’s nothing because sometimes you win all the games in the first stage and then suddenly you lose a big game,” Younus said.

“So it’s good for us, not like some other teams, like South Africa and Sri Lanka in the last World T20, who won all their games and then lost the big games.”

Younus said he had been confident that his bowlers could defend the total they put up, giving credit in particular to Shahid Afridi, Saeed Ajmal, Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Mohammad Asif, back in action after a one-year ban.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting, however, had been almost certain of coasting to victory when he was removed by Shoaib Malik for 32. At that stage Australia needed only 66 runs from 112 balls with seven wickets in hand.

Michael Hussey anchored the innings with 64 runs from 87 balls but after he was removed in the 41st over, Australia crumbled and eventually needed 19 from 25 balls with only two wickets in hand.

And while the tail hung on for the narrowest of victories, Ponting admitted he never expected Pakistan to fight back so well.

“I didn’t think it would go this close when we had 20 overs left,” he admitted.

“And it wasn’t an easy wicket as you could see by the way they batted, in particular. I thought they got off to a reasonable start and we were able to bring them back because the wicket slowed up and the guys who took the pace off the ball were particularly hard to get away and get boundaries off.

“So we knew it would be the same for us and we thought their spinners would have a bit in their favour.

“But we were 140-3 when I got out and we needed about 60 to win, so I thought we might get there easier than we did.

“But we snuck across the line and we’re through to the next stage now with a semifinal on Friday.”

In Wednesday’s other game, fast bowlers Ashish Nehra and Praveen Kumar shared six wickets to set up India’s consolation seven-wicket victory over an under-strength West Indies.

Left-arm seamer Nehra finished with 3-31 and Kumar with 3-22 as India dismissed the West Indies for 129 before achieving the modest target with more than 17 overs to spare in the day-night match.

Virat Kohli (79 not out) and Dinesh Karthik (34) built on their bowlers’ efforts with a 92-run stand for the third wicket to steer them home in an inconsequential match.—AFP


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