World champs win out but Pakistan stand tall
by AFP

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

DateLine: 16th January 2005


A revitalised Pakistan posted a respectable total but world champions Australia still coasted home to a four-wicket victory in their tri-series one-day cricket match at Bellerive Oval here.


The tourists opted for a strong batting line-up which rewarded the selectors with a sizeable tally of 272 for 7 from 50 overs on Sunday.


The highlights were a swashbuckling 56 off 26 balls by one-day specialist Shahid Afridi and the return to form of captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who top-scored with 68.


But the elements intervened and after Australia got off to an excellent start, courtesy of replacement openers Michael Clarke and Simon Katich, the home side were set a revised total of 253 for victory off 45 overs.


They achieved their target with two overs remaining, ending Pakistan's hopes of revenge after their 3-0 drubbing in the Test series.


But the visitors coukd take some consolation from their batting performance even though their bowling lacked a knockout punch.


The much-vaunted showdown between the world's two fastest bowlers did not become the contest many had hoped for.


Australia's Brett Lee did send down some scorching deliveries at well over 150 km per hour (93 mph) -- as did Shoaib Akhtar, who can lay claim to being the faster of the pair.


But neither asserted their authority over the match. Lee finished with poor figures of 1-66 off 10 overs while Shoaib had none for 54 from eight.


Instead it was the batsmen who stole the limelight.


Afridi's rapid-fire 56 included four sixes and his efforts were supplemented by Inzamam-ul-Haq and a solid 61 from opener Salman Butt.


For Australia, man of the match Clarke scored his second successive half century while opening -- reaching 97 off 99 balls before he was caught by Naved-ul-Hasan while trying to hoist Mohammad Hafeez over the boundary to bring up his century.


Clarke, who smacked 66 while opening against the West Indies in Australia's first match in Melbourne on Friday, set the stage with fellow stand-in opener Simon Katich.


They put on 107 for the first wicket before Katich dragged an Azhar Mahmood delivery onto his stumps for 38.


The duo were filling in as openers for Matthew Hayden, who is being rested, and Adam Gilchrist who has a knee injury.


Pakistan began shakily before steadying.


The tourists, who have been tinkering with their batting line-up all summer, had wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal partnering Butt to open the innings.


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 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.


Malik's solid 31 from 43 deliveries helped steady Pakistan after they had lost Kamran and then Mohammad Hafeez for a duck -- caught by Brad Hogg off Lee behind square leg -- to be on 30 for 2.


Inzamam then came in to steer the ship for Pakistan.


Yousuf contributed 30 but was caught by Damien Martyn off Michael Kasprowicz with the score on 191 for 5. When Inzamam fell lbw to Kasprowicz just 13 runs later, it was left to Afridi to set the innings alight.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)