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Spirited Australia stun diffident Pakistan
by Jinu Sabastian


Ground:Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:MEK Hussey, Danish Kaneria, NM Hauritz
Event:Pakistan in Australia 2009/10

DateLine: 7th January 2010

 

A day that began with visions of a famous Pakistani win ended in a stunning manner as Australia snatched the match from the visitor’s clutch to seal a famous win. Ponting has been desperate to mould a team which would bear to his legacy rather than being remembered as a skipper who inherited a well oiled team. After the departure of two of the greatest bowlers – McGrath and Warne – along with others like Jason Gillespie, Stuart MacGill and Michael Kasprowicz, the decline of Stuart Clark and Brett Lee, Ponting’s young attack lacks the firepower to blast out an opposition. But what they lack in firepower they make it up with will-power as evident in today’s win.

 

Pakistan on the other hand looked diffident and it was evident from the first over of the day. The Australian side had a measly lead of 80 runs with just two wickets in hand and here the Pakistani skipper Mohammad Yousuf literally handed the match on platter to the hosts. The visiting skipper posted men on the boundary as saving runs were his priority rather than taking wickets. With a more talented attack at his disposal than Ponting this tactic was bizarre and Hussey (134 not out, 284 balls, 16x4) took full advantage of the situation. Peter Siddle (38, 117 balls, 2x4) too settled into his groove as he rotated the strike to give his senior partner the strike. Hussey collected the runs which were on offer as the two added 123 runs in 45.4 overs to take the match away from Pakistan. Asif finally ended the stand when Siddle gloved a catch to the slip and then Kaneria cleaned up Bollinger (0, 1 ball) to claim his five-fer. Australia had set a target of 177 for win and it was assured that Pakistan would literally canter to the target.

 

That belief was strengthened when Imran Farhat (22, 25 balls, 5x4) and Salman Butt (21, 31 balls, 4x4) raced off like a runaway train as they put on 34 in just seven overs. Though Bollinger removed Farhat, Butt continued the assault with some silken boundaries. With tea just around corner Mitchell Johnson summoned up two deliveries that left the match in balance. Faisal Iqbal (7, 9 balls, 1x4) and Salman Butt were forced to play at deliveries which the duo edged behind to Haddin who took a stunning catch to remove the latter. One could put down the defeat to the difference in the quality of the keeper both the sides possessed. Though Haddin’s keeping had come under scanner several times in this Test Akmal’s keeping might have made the Aussie keeper feel that he was a world class keeper. Yousuf began his innings by attacking Hauritz who was taken for three boundaries in his second over by Ponting kept his faith in him.

 

Hauritz’s story has been an interesting one as he once enjoyed unconditional support from the skipper and the selectors though the media and the public gunned for his head. He was happy to play the supporting bowler’s role rather than the role than Warne enjoyed that of the enforcer. But during the recently concluded Test series against West Indies the head of the national selection publicly stated that there were other spin options available thus putting Hauritz’s place in jeopardy. The spinner responded with a five-fer in the previous Test and this time he displayed his growing maturity. The off-spinner can claim that he was one of the main architects along with Hussey for this memorable win. Hauritz did not wilt under the assault as he removed Yousuf (19, 28 balls, 4x4) with a stunning return catch that left him on the floor with a bleeding thumb finger. Two balls later he forced a rather lazy cut shot from Misbah (0, 2 balls) which was held at backward point as Pakistan slipped. Hopes were placed on the shoulders of the Akmal brothers but Kamran (11, 15 balls, 1x4) after living dangerously for a while perished to Johnson while Sami (2, 18 balls) did all he could to support Umar before he became Hauritz’s third victim. Left with the tail Umar (49, 81 balls, 6x4) tried to counter attack but that tactic did him in when he skied one from Bollinger to Johnson who ran back pedalled from mid-off to take an excellent running catch. Hauritz then mopped up the tail as he claimed Kaneria (0, 8 balls) and Umar Gul (6, 12 balls, 1x4) as Australia claimed a stunning win to take an unassailable lead in the Test series.

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