White ton sets up an easy Australian win
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Brisbane Cricket Ground, Woolloongabba, Brisbane
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:Salman Butt, Shahid Afridi, MJ Clarke, CL White
Event:Pakistan in Australia 2009/10

DateLine: 22nd January 2010


The Australian chase engineered by a brutal White and classy Clarke helped the hosts overwhelm an enthusiastic Pakistani side to take the lead in the five match ODI series. Chasing a challenging 275 to win the Australia side found itself in a spot of bother when they slipped to 84 for 3 but White and Clarke ensured that the hosts did not end up on the losing side.


Pakistan had earlier set up a challenging total thanks to a silken knock from Butt and brutal hitting from Afridi late down the order. Yousuf did not have any hesitation in electing to bat first on a wicket that looked perfect for batting. Openers Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt got the visitors off to a quick start as the openers attacked from the onset. The duo added 62 in 12.5 overs as they subdued the Australian bowling attack with some audacious shots. Barring a spirited Bollinger none of the other two faster men - Peter Siddle and Clint McKay - looked like causing any trouble to the Pakistani openers as the batting pair prospered. With Ponting running out options he opted for the medium pace of Watson and that proved to be an inspired one.


Watson bowled a leg-cutter which was slower in pace and Kamran Akmal (34, 34 balls, 4x4) who was already into his shot spooned an easy catch to Clarke at point. Ponting immediately called for the bowling powerplay and that was enough for Salman But to change his gears. He along with Younis Khan added 55 in 9.3 overs to stun the Australian bowlers. Younis added just eight in that association as Butt hammered the Australian bowlers to all parts of the ground. He targeted Siddle in particular for some harsh treatment as he took the medium pacer for three boundaries in an over. But sliced Siddle over point, guided one past the lone slip and then thumped a powerful pull through midwicket that could break any bowler's heart. Butt then trained his eyes on McKay as he got another three boundary over from the bowler which included two scorching cover drives and one deft leg glance as the Australian bowlers wilted under pressure.


With none of the bowlers able to make any sort of impact, Ponting had to go to Bollinger and the left-arm seamer got the breakthrough his captain asked for. Bollinger got one to lift off good length and Butt (72, 80 balls, 12x4) went for an ambitious pull shot which ballooned up behind Haddin who kept his cool to take a well judged catch. Mohammed Yousuf (2, 7 balls) was dismissed soon when a bouncer from Bollinger hit him on his gloves and then proceeded to bounce onto the bails which dislodged the bails. Younis Khan was joined in the middle by Umar Akmal and the two set about putting the innings back on track.


Umar Akmal (23, 22 balls, 3x4) then played an energetic cameo before a slash at a wide one from McKay brought about his downfall. Malik (28, 33 balls, 2x4) and Younis Khan steadied the innings with a partnership of 49 in 9.5 overs before Watson brought an end to the partnership. That brought the dangerous Afridi to the middle and the maverick all-rounder was straight away at work. He warmed up to the task as he launched Hauritz over the long on fence. The batting powerplay was taken in the 44th over and immediately Younis Khan (46, 74 balls, 1x4) was dismissed when he pulled a short one from McKay straight to Hussey at deep midwicket. Mohammed Aamer (0, 1 ball) in the very same over when he edged a straighter one from McKay through to the keeper.


That was the cue for Afridi who began to open up. The all-rounder then bludgeoned Siddle into the long-on stand for a maximum and then top edged one over Haddin for another boundary in the same over. McKay then bled runs as he was thumped for three consecutive boundaries by Afridi as the Pakistani score surged forward. Afridi's fun continued as he launched a friendly full toss from Watson over the long on fence but then was dismissed in the very next ball when he failed to clear the deep midwicket and found Hussey there.


The Pakistani innings folded quickly Saeed Ajmal (2, 7 balls) and Mohammad Asif (0, 4 balls) departed in quick succession as the Pakistani innings folded up for 274.


Australia in reply did not get off to a good start as the Pakistani opening bowlers - Mohammad Aamer and Mohammad Asif - were right on the money from the first ball. The pair did not give any loose offerings to the Australian openers and soon they were rewarded with wickets. Shane Watson (5, 12 balls) was done in by pace and bounce by Aamer and the ball lobbed off the bat handle to Saeed Ajmal at mid-on. Shaun Marsh (15, 24 balls, 2x4) was next to go when he paid the price for an expansive drive of an accurate Asif which he succeeded in chipping to Rana Naved at mid-off. Ponting (27, 47 balls, 1x4) never looked at home during his stay in the middle as he troubled by the pace and bounce of Aamer, accuracy and seam of Asif and the swing of Rana Naved. He was finally put out his misery by Shahid Afridi when he attempted to cut a flighted delivery from the leg-spinner only to give a simple catch to the substitute fielder at short third man as the Australian innings slipped to 84 for 3.


Clarke and White then joined forces to put the innings back on track. The way the pair operated was a study in complete contrast. White relied mostly on singles while Whit used brutal power to score his runs. Clarke constantly used his feet to neutralize the spin while White was content to stay in the crease and use the long handle. Clarke completed a well-paced half century in 58 balls which had just one boundary but lot of singles while White got to his half century which had four boundaries and one six. The pair added 102 in 18.3 overs before a run out send Clarke (58, 76 balls, 1x4) back to the pavilion.


Rana Naved and Saeed Ajmal did well as the run-rate crept past the seven run mark. Pakistani skipper after a pretty long deliberation with his senior players opted to bowl Afridi in the 41st over and that shifted the momentum back in Australia's favour. White hammered Afridi for three consecutive sixes between the arc of long on and midwicket to blaze into the nineties. That over cost Pakistan 21 runs and the required run rate came down to run a ball. White then cruised to his second ODI century in 85 balls as the Pakistani shoulders dropped.


Rana Naved finally cleaned up White (105, 88 balls, 8x4, 4x6) when the big hitting all-rounder failed to pick up the deceptive slower ball. Hussey (35 not out, 37 balls, 2x4) and Brad Haddin (7 not out, 7 balls) then ensured that Australia crossed the winning line with no further hiccups.