Swashbuckling Afridi sets Pakistan innings alight
by AFP

Ground:Bellerive Oval, Hobart
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:Shahid Afridi, Salman Butt, Inzamam-ul-Haq, MJ Clarke
Event:VB Series 2004/05

DateLine: 16th January 2005


Big-hitting Shahid Afridi swatted a lightning-fast 56 off 26 balls to put Pakistan in a strong position in the tri-series one-day cricket match against Australia at Hobart's Bellerive Oval here.


Afridi, a one-day cricket specialist, smacked four sixes and four fours in a stunning unbeaten display to carry Pakistan to 272 for 7 off 50 overs on Sunday.


He was aided by the return to form of captain Inzamam-ul-Haq who top-scored for the tourists with 68 and a solid 61 from opener Salman Butt.


Pakistan went into the match boasting a long but experimental batting line-up and set about building a highly-competitive total, shakily at first.


Although the innings was not showy until Afridi came to the crease, Pakistan made the most of a good wicket to prove at last they are capable of building an innings after a tour which has been marred by brittle batting.


Injured pace bowler Jason Gillespie was missing from the Australian attack but in his place was speedster Brett Lee who tore the heart out of the West Indian top order when the two teams met in the opening tri-series match in Melbourne on Friday.


He wasted no time getting to full pace, sending down deliveries at more than 150 kilometres per hour from his first over and setting the challenge to rival Shoaib Akhtar, the world's fastest bowler, who was due to open the attack against Australia.


Pakistan, who have been tinkering with their batting line-up throughout the tour, opted to open with wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal partnering Butt.


That part of the experiment failed when veteran Glenn McGrath made an early breakthrough, enticing Kamran to play at an outswinging delivery which he edged to Michael Clarke at second slip for five.


The tourists also moved their two most talented batsmen, Inzamam and Yousuf Youhana, to fifth and sixth in the order, dropping Shoaib Malik into fourth place.


Although he notched a solid 31 from 43 deliveries, Malik's presence helped steady Pakistan, who had lost Kamran then Mohammad Hafeez for a duck, caught by Brad Hogg off Lee behind square leg, to be 30 for 2.


Inzamam, whose captaincy is reportedly under threat, then came in to steer the ship for Pakistan, with a smart 68 off 64 deliveries.


Yousuf contributed with 30 before he was caught by Damien Martyn off Michael Kasprowicz with the score at 191 for 5 in the 41st over.


Inzamam fell leg before wicket, also to Kasprowicz, just 13 runs later before Afridi set the innings alight.


Australia, facing a big challenge against a team largely written off as being a serious contender for the tri-series, took to the field without the tried and tested opening partnership of Matthew Hayden and Adam Gilchrist.


Hayden is being rested while big-hitting Gilchrist has a minor knee injury.


Instead Michael Clarke was being partnered by Simon Katich who missed the first game with a virus.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)