JOHANNESBURG, Sep 19 (Reuters) Shoaib Malik and Misbah ul-Haq shared a record partnership to lead Pakistan to a memorable victory over Australia in their Twenty20 World Cup Super Eights match.
Captain Shoaib, who shared a fourth-wicket stand of 101 with Younis Khan in Pakistan's win over Sri Lanka on Monday, bettered that record in Twenty20 internationals with Misbah in an unbroken fifth-wicket partnership of 119.
That carried Pakistan to 165 for four and victory by six wickets with five balls to spare yesterday.
Australia, who had trounced Bangladesh by nine wickets in their opening Super Eights clash on Sunday, had looked on course for victory when seamer Stuart Clark claimed three quick wickets to help reduce Pakistan to 46 for four.
However, the rest of the Australian bowling was ineffective as Shoaib and Misbah turned the match round to secure a rousing win.
Shoaib came in at the fall of the third wicket but it was 23-year-old Misbah who reached his half-century first, off 35 balls. Misbah finished on 66 not out with seven fours and a six.
Shoaib was content to play second fiddle to his big-hitting partner and ended with 52 not out off 38 deliveries.
''My performance speaks for itself and proves those critics of my selection wrong,'' Misbah told reporters after Pakistan clinched a place in the semi-finals.
''We have had great players in the middle order like Mohammad Yousuf, Inzamam-ul-Haq and Younis Khan but I definitely now have a chance to cement my place. I can't compare myself to those great players but I will try to perform like them.'' Clark was the best of the Australian bowlers, taking three for 27 in his four overs, but he lacked support as Australia failed to capture wickets when the run-chase was on.
PAKISTAN EXCELLENT Earlier, Michael Hussey and Brad Hodge had shared a fifth-wicket stand of 63 in 40 balls to help hoist Australia to 164 for seven after excellent Pakistan bowling, spearheaded by Sohail Tanveer, had largely kept the run rate down.
Shoaib had won the toss and put Australia in to bat and fast bowler Tanveer made the initial breakthrough in the second over when he had Matthew Hayden caught at short midwicket by Younis for one.
Adam Gilchrist tore into the bowling with five fours in 12 balls before left-arm seamer Tanveer had him caught at backward point by Mohammad Hafeez in the fourth over for 24.
Spinners Shahid Afridi and Hafeez made their mark by removing Andrew Symonds (29) and Ricky Ponting (27) respectively.
Hussey, who scored 37 off 25 balls, and Hodge, who made 36 off 29 deliveries, then mounted a charge but Pakistan had the final word as Tanveer, Umar Gul and Mohammad Asif conceded just 14 runs in the last three overs and took three more wickets.
Tanveer was the most destructive bowler, claiming his third wicket when he had Hussey caught by Imran Nazir.
He finished with three for 31 as all five Pakistan bowlers performed well, suppressing the Australian run rate effectively.
''Pakistan bowled really well and the turning point was Umar Gul's four overs at the end,'' said Gilchrist, who led Australia in the field after skipper Ponting strained a hamstring while batting.
REUTERS BJR BST0952