Sami, Asif rip apart Australia
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:Mohammad Asif, Mohammad Sami
Event:Pakistan in Australia 2009/10

DateLine: 3rd January 2010


Mohammad Sami and Mohammad Asif scythed through the Australian batting line up as the hosts were dismissed for a modest total of 127. Sami removed the top three Australian batsmen while Asif picked out six Australian middle and lower order wickets to stun the hosts into submission. The Australian batsmen were under severe test for the first time in the summer as none of the batsmen had any answer to what the Pakistani duo of Sami and Asif dished out in the middle.


The day's play was delayed by rain till 2pm local time and once the sky cleared Ricky Ponting not swayed by the overcast conditions and the green pitch elected to bat first which ultimately proved to be the host's undoing. Pakistan made three changes as Mohammad Sami, Umar Gul and Danish Kaneria came in for Mohammad Aamer, Abdur Rauf and Saeed Ajmal while Phil Hughes came in for Simon Katich.


Sami who was returning back to the international fold after almost three years very nearly gave the breakthrough when Phil Hughes slashed hard at an outswinger which Umar Akmal at gully could not hold onto and it seemed that Pakistan's fielding woes continued from Melbourne. But Phil Hughes could make full use of that let off as Sami had his retribution in his next over when the diminutive southpaw went for an aggressive drive through the off side but could only edge low to Faisal Iqbal at second slip for a duck. It was a nightmarish return for Hughes who stayed for nine unconvincing balls during which he was constantly peppered which short balls by Sami. Ponting (0, 1 ball)followed the next ball when he swung at a short ball from Sami towards deep square leg where Gul took an excellent diving catch as Australia slipped to 2 for 2. Sami, who was bowling like wind, thought he had claimed his hat-trick when he struck him full in front of his stumps but the on-field umpire negated the appeal. Mohammad Yousuf after consultation with his bowler and the keeper decided to challenge the umpire's decision but the third umpire agreed with the on-field umpire's call.


But Watson (6, 24 balls, 1x4) did not survive long when a leg-cutter from Sami found the outside edge of his bat through to the keeper to end a rather laborious stay. Hussey and Clarke had their work cut out but with the opening bowlers giving them literally nothing the pair struggled for fluency. It could have been much worse for the hosts when Gul got the umpire to agree to a leg before appeal against Clarke but the right hander immediately challenged the decision and it proved right. The replays clearly indicated that the ball was going over the top of the stumps and Clarke survived. But the vice-captain could not settle into a groove as the Pakistani pacers especially Mohammad Asif troubled the right hander with some well directed out-swingers. Clarke played and missed several times before an in-swinger crashed through the gate of the batsman to clip the top of middle stump.


North survived a leg before when the left-hander successfully challenged the decision of on-field umpire when he was ruled out. The replays showed that the ball was heading over the stumps and the southpaw survived which left the Pakistani team especially the bowler Asif infuriated. The bowler probed relentlessly and finally consumed Hussey (28, 58 balls, 4x4) who played an ambitious pull shot only to sky it towards short third man where Misbah took a well judged catch running back. Of the next ball North (10, 17 balls, 2x4) felt for a ball angled across him through to the keeper as the Australia score read 51 for 6. Haddin (6, 9 balls, 1x4) tried to counter-attack but that proved to be his downfall as he drove uppishly towards mid-on where Yousuf took an easy catch leaving Australia at 62 for 7 before the players headed for tea.


The final session was delayed by around 15 minutes as there was a slight drizzle. But once play resumed Johnson (38, 57 balls, 5x4, 1x6) and Hauritz (27, 37 balls, 3x4) counterattacked to try and put the Pakistani bowlers on the back foot. The pair put on 44 in 12.3 overs which was incidentally the highest partnership in the innings before another jaffa from Asif ended Hauritz's stay. Johnson went after Kaneria as he slammed a couple of boundaries and huge six of the leg spinner before holing out in the deep. Bollinger (9, 19 balls, 2x4) was beaten by an in-swinger from Gul as the Australian innings folded up for 127 for 44.2 overs.


The Pakistani openers had to face a tricky period of around three overs during which the duo were severely tested by the opening bowlers Bollinger and Siddle. The openers played and missed several times but were able to survive till the close of play.


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