Cricket World Cup 2015: Australia beat Pakistan to reach semi-finals

By Sam SheringhamBBC Sport
Steve Smith
World Cup quarter-final, Adelaide:
Pakistan 213 (49.5 overs): Haris Sohail 41, Hazlewood 4-35
Australia 216-4 (33.5 overs): Smith 65, Watson 64*
Australia won by six wickets

Australia withstood a pulsating spell of fast bowling from Pakistan's Wahab Riaz to set up a meeting with India in the World Cup semi-finals.

Australia's hopes of chasing 214 looked in peril when Riaz removed David Warner and Michael Clarke to leave them 59-3.

But Steve Smith countered with a measured 65 and Shane Watson capitalised on a dropped catch to steer Australia home with an unbeaten 64.

Earlier, Josh Hazlewood took 4-35 as Pakistan slid from 97-2 to 213 all out.

Australia's victory keeps them on course for a fifth World Cup victory and sets up a chance to avenge their 2011 quarter-final defeat by India in Sydney next week.

For a short period, however, their progress was in serious doubt as Riaz rattled their top order with a hostile spell of left-arm fast bowling that had Kevin Pietersen and Allan Border purring in the Test Match Special commentary box.

Wahab Riaz
Wahab Riaz intimidated Shane Watson with short-pitched bowling in a fiery spell

Sending the ball down at over 90mph, Riaz had Warner caught off a mistimed uppercut before Clarke was undone by a throat-high bouncer that lobbed up off the splice into the hands of Sohail Maqsood at short midwicket.

With Pakistan on top, Watson was given a working over by the fired-up Riaz, who also took every opportunity to direct verbal barbs at the struggling batsman.

He almost became Riaz's next victim when he top-edged a pull shot to fine leg where Rahat Ali got right underneath the ball only to let it slip through his grasp.

It looked a pivotal moment at the time and so it proved as Watson grew in confidence and began to drive and pull Pakistan's less pacey bowlers to the boundary.

At the other end, Smith was calmness personified as he stroked his way to a run-a-ball fifty.

BBC Test Match Special analysis
Former England spinner Vic Marks:"It looks an absolute cakewalk, and in many ways it was, apart from that spell when Wahab Riaz had the force with him. That was exceptional fast bowling but he didn't have enough support from the other bowlers or the fielders. It was terrific theatre, but the form book has triumphed again, with just a few hiccups along the way. If only Rahat Ali had held that catch."

His dismissal, trapped lbw by Ehsan Adil, briefly gave Pakistan another sniff of an upset but once again their outfielding let them down as Sohail Khan dropped Glenn Maxwell on five.

Australia did not look back after their second reprieve as Maxwell bludgeoned 44 off 29 balls before Watson drove Khan down the ground for the winning runs.

Hazlewood had earlier justified his selection ahead of Pat Cummins with four wickets as Pakistan wilted after winning the toss.

After both openers fell to sharp slip catches, captain Misbah-ul-Haq and Haris Sohail added 73 for the third wicket before Maxwell's spin made the breakthrough.

Test Match Special statistician Andrew Samson
Australia are the first team to reach seven World Cup semi-finals. New Zealand can join them on seven if they defeat West Indies in Wellington.

Having twice planted the spinner into the stands, Misbah attempted a slog-sweep but got a top edge to Aaron Finch at deep midwicket.

A combination of disciplined bowling and reckless shots followed as several Pakistan batsmen were unable to capitalise on good starts.

Their total looked well short of par, only for Riaz to briefly bring the contest to life before Smith and Watson's telling riposte.

Listen to highlights from Test Match Special's and 5 live Sport's 2015 World Cup coverage.

World Cup quarter-finals
South Africa beat Sri Lanka by nine wickets
India beat Bangladesh by 109 runs
Australia beat Pakistan by six wickets
New Zealand v West Indies, Wellington, 21 March
Josh Hazlewood (centre) celebrates with team-mates
Josh Hazlewood took 4-35 in his 10 overs against Pakistan
Haris Sohail
Haris Sohail top scored for Pakistan with 41
Sohail Khan drops a catch
Sohail Khan dropped one of two crucial catches for Pakistan - the other drop was by Rahat Ali
Shane Watson (left) stares at Wahab Riaz (right)
Wahab Riaz took two wickets and bowled with pace and aggression at the likes of Shane Watson