Mohali: James Faulkner took a record five-wicket haul after Steve Smith hit an unbeaten half century to help Australia post a 21-run win and knock Pakistan out of the World Twenty20 on Friday.
The victory means Australia remain in the hunt for a place in next week’s semi-finals with two wins from three matches and sets up an effective knock-out tie against India on Sunday.
The stage for a comfortable Australian win was set by an unbeaten 61-run knock from skipper Smith who shared key stands with Shane Watson (44 not out) and Glenn Maxwell (30) to rescue his side from a shaky 57-3.
Faulkner took four wickets from his last six balls and also accounted for the dangerous Sharjeel Khan (30) to finish with 5-27, the best figures by an Australian in a T20 international.
Pakistan could only manage 172-8 in reply to Australia’s strong 193-4 on a docile track in Mohali.
Rookie leg-spinner Adam Zampa chipped in with two wickets in a commendable all-round show by the reigning 50-over world champions.
The defeat saw Pakistan, the 2009 winners, make a humiliating early exit from the marquee T20 tournament.
Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals and were never really in the hunt despite a valiant counter-attack by Khalid Latif (46).
After losing opener Ahmed Shehzad (one) cheaply in the third over, Sharjeel tried to speed things up before chopping on to his stumps off Faulkner.
Umar Akmal (32) lost his wicket to Zampa and ‘Boom Boom’ Shahid Afridi was stumped after he danced down the track to attempt an ambitious shot to the same bowler.
The Australians were in early trouble but Smith, 26, batted sensibly to ensure his side did not squander the advantage of batting first.
Smith hit seven boundaries in his 43-ball knock and completed his second half-century in T20 internationals in the process.
Watson, who has announced he will quit international cricket after the tournament, came in lower down the order and provided some late fireworks in a 21-ball knock which included three sixes.
Paceman Wahab Riaz and spinner Imad Wasim took two wickets each in an otherwise lacklustre show by the Pakistani bowlers and fielders.
Australia opted for a new opening pair in Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja for the crunch tie at the Punjab Cricket Association ground.
Khawaja, enjoying a purple patch with the bat, showed his aggressive intent early as he hit an off-colour Mohammad Sami (53-0) for two fours in the first over of the innings.
The left-hander then lofted Riaz over the fence for a six but he was out one ball later, losing his middle-stump to the fast bowler.
Riaz then dismissed David Warner (nine) with a ball that knocked off the stumps in a spectacular fashion.
Finch (15) was the next to go, failing to read a slow and low ball from Wasim.
Smith and Maxwell then steadied the innings, with a quick-fire 62-run partnership before Wasim made the breakthrough.