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Aussie high in Holland
Ashish Magotra |
August 28, 2004 11:33 IST
Part-time bowlers Darren Lehmann and Andrew Symonds took two wickets apiece as Australia beat Pakistan by 17 runs in the final of the triangular tournament in Amstelveen on Saturday.
None of Pakistan's batsmen could score a half century as the team was bowled out for 175 with 17 balls left.
Earlier, Australia put up a gutsy performance on a difficult batting track to score 192 for seven in their allotted overs at the VCA ground.
The start was delayed by an hour-and-a-half, but a 50 overs-a-side match was played for the first time in the tournament, after the truncated series opener and the wash-out of two league matches earlier.
From the start the pitch seemed two-paced and when dust flew after the ball pitched, the Australians realised that they would be in for a tough time. These conditions were apparent even before the toss, but Ponting chose to bat, hoping that the conditions would get worse as the match wore on.
The Aussies were in trouble early on. Mohammad Sami and Shabbir Ahmed, opening the Pakistan attack, got the ball to move awkwardly from a length. It basically meant the batsmen would never be quite sure about what the ball would do off the wicket. Thus the openers were tentative and, as a result, scoring was slow.
By the eighth over, Australia had only reached 21. They were dealt a blow when opener Brad Haddin, after being hit on the helmet by a ball that reared from short of length, was clean bowled by Sami.
The under-prepared VRA track was so dangerous for batting that had the match been abandoned it would not have been a surprise.
But Matthew Hayden kept a cool head and Darren Lehmann and Andrew Symonds, in the middle order, improvised well to see Australia reach a respectable total.
Hayden scored 59, the second half century of the tournament, off 114 balls, which included four fours. It was a painstakingly slow but vital innings.
He and skipper Ricky Ponting batted with determination to add 44 for the second wicket. The Aussie skipper scored 25 before being caught at short third man while trying to hit through the line.
Damien Martyn was pushed down to number six and Lehmann came ahead. The latter displayed good footwork and prevented the spinners from settling down.
After adding 61 with Hayden for the third wicket, the left-handed Lehmann put on a 57-run partnership with Symonds for the fourth wicket and the run-rate began to shoot.
Symonds stamped his class immediately on arrival with a six off Shoaib Malik. The shot was powerful enough to send the ball out of the ground into a nearby canal.
Symonds's batting belied the difficulties faced the by his teammates early in the innings and he needed only 40 balls for his 36.
Lehmann used the width of the crease intelligently to make a vital 40 that came off 68 balls, which included two fours.
The 100 came in the 33rd over and the run-rate hovered at 2.80 for the most part before it picked up towards the end.
Only nine fours were struck in the course of the innings besides Symonds's big six.
Shoaib Akhtar, who did not go flat out, picked three wickets for 40 but Mohammad Sami (1-26) and Shabbir Ahmed (1-25) were the best bowlers on view for Pakistan.
The Aussies wanted to make the most of whatever little cricket they could get ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy next month. They succeeded in doing that and also gave themselves a fighting chance.
The Pakistani openers knew they were in for a tough time. But after watching Matthew Hayden grind it out in the middle, the team management decided during the break that it was best to follow the Aussie approach.
As a result, the first 15 overs saw Pakistan put on only 40 runs for the loss of opener Yasir Hameed's wicket.
Jason Gillespie and Glenn McGrath stuck to a line and length and kept the runs down but failed to take a wicket. An early wicket would have seen the Aussies exert a lot of pressure.
But the introduction of paceman Brett Lee into the attack changed all that. The Australian speedster steamed in and bowled fast from the very start. Almost immediately he claimed the wicket of Hameed, who played all around a straight one and was clean bowled.
Shoaib Malik, who has had so much success as a pinch-hitter, concentrated hard and kept his wicket, but the runs never came at a quick enough pace to put Australia out of the race. The World champions knew that a few quick wickets would change the complexion of the match.
Spin was introduced after 15 overs, in the form of Brad Hogg and Andrew Symonds.
Then, Inzamam-ul Haq tried to hit a Symonds delivery out of the ground but the ball thudded into Brad Haddin's gloves and David Shepherd adjudged the Pakistan skipper out. Television replays later showed that the ball had brushed Inzamam's trousers. Pakistan were reduced to 65 for 3.
But Malik and Yousuf Youhana compiled a good partnership to help Pakistan reach 93 for 3 in the 30th over. They seemed to be cruising to victory when all of a sudden they lost two wickets in two balls -- both were run-outs.
First, Shoaib Malik was done in by an underhand throw by Andrew Symonds at the non-strikers end, and then, off the very next ball, the fielder hurled a sharp return to wicketkeeper Brad Haddin to catch newcomer Shahid Afridi (0) short of his ground. The turn in events had Pakistan coach Bob Woolmer shaking his head in disgust.
But the Pakistanis took the setback in their stride and Youhana and Abdul Razzaq got involved in an exhilarating stand. The two put on 57 runs for the sixth wicket before Razzaq fell to a catch in the deep off Darren Lehmann. It was a dismissal that defied logic, really.
Pakistan were cruising at that stage and there was no need to play a rash shot. In many ways, it signalled the end of Pakistan's fight.
The next man to go was Youhana, who was wrongly adjudged caught behind the wicket when the ball had clearly come off his thigh pad.
Razzaq made 26 from 33 balls with one four while Youhana's innings off 43 took him 57 balls and contained three fours and a six.
Pakistan needed 21 runs from the last four overs with three wickets in hand but collapsed in a heap towards the end and lost by 17 runs with nearly three overs to spare.