2nd Match: Australia v Pakistan at Cardiff, 9 Jun 2001|
It was a commendable performance by the world champions, considering they are still a bit raw in the alien English conditions and hasn’t had the most comfortable of times against county sides.
Not overawed by the situation, a bit precarious after Ponting’s sudden departure, both Waugh and Bevan, grafted their innings with a lot of maturity, posting first the 50 of the partnership off just 54 balls, then bringing up the 200 of the innings in the 35th over.
With runs coming comfortably in one’s and two’s and Australian batsmen visibly in no great hurry, the score moved to 220 by the 40th over. It was in the next over, bowled by Afridi, that the Aussie captain at last decided to have some fun by smashing a boundary to deep extra cover.
The first ball of Razzaq’s over, the 42nd, and came Michael Bevan’s turn to get his first boundary, a lovely pull to deep mid wicket that took his personal score into the 40’s.
The barrier now broken and with the bowlers and fielders seemingly disconcerted, the batsmen went for their runs, mostly in boundaries, with much more freedom.
It was Steve Waugh’s 5th boundary, a fine sweep past the short leg fielder that brought up the fifty for the skipper off just 57 balls.
A boundary by Bevan off Afridi’s over posted the 250 of the innings and also brought the fifty for the batsmen – a fine effort really at a time when Pakistan was in a position to put pressure on the opposition after breaking Waugh-Ponting association.
Another boundary for the left-hander and it was all over at Cardiff, Australia romping home comfortably by 7 wickets, with 26 balls to spare.
Australia reached the hundred of the innings in the 16th over, as Mark Waugh punched Razzaq behind point for his 5th boundary.
Razzaq, however, struck back in his next over, getting Waugh to edge one down to the stand-in keeper, Younis Khan. The Aussie opener scored a belligerent 47 off 49 balls and hit five boundaries.
Yet there was no stopping Ponting, as he showed no mercy against the medium pacers. Finding boundaries with what seemed as complete command, he raced to his fifty, the 25th in ODIs, off 49 balls, with the help of 9 fours.
The master batsman went on to hit more boundaries, while adding 30 for the 3rd wicket with Michael Bevan, before misreading a Saqlain top-spinner and holing out it straight to Razzaq at long on. Ponting’s 68-ball stay at the crease produced 70 invaluable runs.
Two new batsmen at the crease and the scoring rate fell comparatively, but only, it seems, momentarily. After reaching the 150-run mark on the first ball of the 26th over, by Saqlain, the Australian skipper swept the off spinner for his first boundary.
The fragility of Pakistan’s keeping department was soon laid bare when, in Saqlain’s next over, Steve Waugh edged the ball behind the stumps only to see Younis making a mess of what might have been an easy pick for Rashid or for that matter any regular stumper.
The skipper went on to hit one more boundary, reaching on to 25 off 21 balls. His left-handed partner is looking well set on 18 off 32 ball, having yet to find the boundary rope, Australia looking pretty comfortable at 179 for 3 in 30 overs.
Yet all these runs didn't come without some luck. An edge here, an lbw or caught behind appeal there and, of course, a dropped chance, as the Pakistan attack failed to dislodge the second wicket partnership, which has reached portentous heights.
With Shoaib limping off the ground after five overs and Rashid never taking the field – the wicket keeping gloves being donned by Younis Khan – the situation looks highly gloomy for the Pakistanis.
The Australian openers launched into their shots right from the beginning, with Gilchrist pulling Waqar to the mid wicket boundary for the first four of the innings.
The left-handed opener went on to hit two more boundaries before his defence was undone by Shoaib's sheer pace. The vice-captain went back to an express delivery, brought his bat down, but could not match the speed of the ball as it whizzed on to his stumps.
The next two deliveries proved an anti-climax, as a confident-looking Ponting dispatched Shoaib for two boundaries behind square on either side of the wicket.
The next over by Waqar brought a five for Mark Waugh as Shoaib Malik made a mess of an off drive right on the boundary. Stopping the ball just short of the rope, he could not overcome his momentum as it carried him over the boundary, allowing enough time for the batsmen to run five.
The next three overs yielded 30 runs as Ponting let off a flurry of boundaries all over the park, including three in one over from Waqar; Australia reaching 50 in the seventh over.
Waugh was not to be left behind, the veteran opener smashing Shoaib through the covers for a boundary. However, he was lucky to get away with an edge from the very next ball, which flew at a terrific speed to first slip where Inzamam just failed to hold onto the ball, and it raced over the third man rope.
Soon after, Australia acquired the fifty for the second wicket partnership off just 44 balls, with the scoreboard depicting a healthy-looking 72 after 10 overs.
The arrival of pace men, Azhar and Razzaq, has slowed down the scoring rate a bit. Yet the strong position in which the Australians find themselves at the moment, should mean there will not be any problem for them to knock off the target well before time.
Youhana and Rashid's innings were a glorious mixture of defence and attack, carving a way out for Pakistan when all seemed down and out even before the half-way stage.
While Rashid was unfortunately run out when beginning to look really dangerous, Youhana stayed there till the very end, when Shoaib Akhtar, the last man, was nicely taken at long off on the penultimate ball of the 50th over.
Youhana remained unbeaten on 91 (103 balls, 8 fours), after having taken Pakistan to 257, a highly unlikely total after the initial slump.
After posting the 150 in the 37th over, these two carried on in the same vein to bring up their fifties in the same over, the 41st by Warne. Youhana, the first to reach the milestone, took 71 balls and hit 3 fours to reach his 16th half-century in ODIs.
Rashid took 11 fewer balls and hit one more boundary to post his second fifty in ODIs.
The next over saw the 100 of the partnership coming up after Rashid hammered Brett Lee for two boundaries in one over, taking the scoring well into 180s by the 42nd over.
The two hundred was reached on the first ball of the 44th over, as Youhana worked the ball away to off for a single. The next ball was a friendly half volley from Lee and Rashid lifted him perfectly over long on for a big six, the first of the innings.
However, there was more to cheer about for the Australian fans. Youhana powerfully drove the ball into the covers, where Steve Waugh did extremely well to stop the ball and throw it back to Lee at the bowling end and Rashid was found well out of his crease.
The Pakistani stumper played well for his 66 in the most trying of situations. His 68-ball innings included 6 fours and a six, with the wicket falling at 207.
Youhana played some lovely shots thereafter, taking the score to 241, before Waqar (14 off 10) chipped a McGrath-delivery straight to mid wicket. Saqlain made two before being run out, yet again by Steve Waugh, on the first ball of the last over, whereas Shoaib got 1.
For Australia, McGrath bowled brilliantly, taking 2 for 22, whereas Harvey got 2 for 39. Shane Warne's three wickets cost him 52, while Brett Lee gave away 85 for one wicket.
These two have taken the score to 118 for 6 by the 30th over, with Youhana, riding his luck after being dropped by Mark Waugh off Warne, batting on 18 (39 balls) and Rashid overtaking him on his way to 22 off 27 ball, with 3 fours. Having already lost three wicket for 46, Pakistan's troubles were aggravated when Saeed was brilliantly caught by Shane Warne at gully off Harvey after displaying some entertaining shots on to both sides of the wicket on his way to 35 off 56 balls. The wicket fell at 65 in the 18th over.
Younis Khan started off confidently, sweeping Warne for a boundary followed by a fine pull off Harvey, to reach double figures. However, that was all he was going to get. Not coming well forward off the next Harvey-delivery, he was rapped on the front pad and was adjudged lbw for 13 (19 balls).
Azhar's stay at the crease was but brief. Failing to read a Warne-leg spinner, he was taken by Gilchrist at the second attempt; Pakistan reduced to 85 for 6, with Azhar gone for 0.
The hundred was reached in the 26th over, as Youhana lifted Warne to deep mid wicket for his first and so far only boundary.
The next over, from Brett Lee, saw Rashid playing some good shots to pick-up two boundaries off consecutive deliveries. Shane Warne, the main destroyer, has already taken three wickets for 37 in eight overs. Ian Harvey has been more economical, conceding 18 runs for two wickets in seven overs.
After dismissing Afridi early – caught by Mark Waugh off Brett Lee for 11 (nine balls) – the Australians allowed Saeed Anwar and Abdur Razzaq to crawl to 44 by the 12th over.
Then came Shane Warne, for many a bit too early, and the experienced leggie did the real damage, getting not one but two wickets in the very first over.
Yet, one must admit that the shots displayed by both Razzaq and Inzi were not of the highest class. Razzaq came forward to the one pitched outside leg, was beaten all ends up and Gilchrist did the rest behind the stumps.
Inzamam had seen off only one ball when a sudden rush of blood induced him to come down the wicket for a big one, perhaps keen to push back the close fielders that Waugh had positioned for him. The result was another stumping by the wicket keeper. While Razzaq got 9 off 28 balls, the burly Inzamam failed to open his account.
Earlier, there was an excellent display of fast bowling from the Australian pace men – McGrath and Brett Lee. Finding considerable pace and bounce in the wicket, they made life difficult for Saeed Anwar and Abdur Razzaq.
After Afridi's initial histrionics, which saw Pakistan reaching 14 in three overs, the run-rate fell markedly, with both pace men applying a nagging off stump line, and in the process, beating the bat on a number of occasions. No wonder, the scoreboard showed 30 for 1 after 9 overs.
Harvey, the first change, came on to bowl the 12th over and was immediately dispatched to deep point by Saeed Anwar, taking Pakistan into the 40s.
Pakistan reached the 50 in that same Shane Warne over, after Saeed swept him, but not without risk, over short fine leg for a boundary.
At the 15 over stage Pakistan have scampered to 56 for three, with Saeed batting on 27 (43 balls), having hit four boundaries, and Yousuf Youhana on two.
Pakistan would have surely liked to keep with the team that trampled England at Edgbaston two days ago. However, the shoulder injury to Wasim Akram, incurred while bowling his first and only spell at Edgbaston, has prompted the inclusion of Shoaib Akhtar in his place.
This means we'll have two of the fastest bowlers of contemporary cricket in Shoaib and Brett Lee taking part in this match.
The wicket at Cardiff being devoid of grass has a brownish look. No wonder then the decision by the Pakistan captain to bat first.
The stands at the stadium are almost full, housing both teams' supporters in big numbers, who do not seem to be as vociferous as the crowd at Edgbaston.
Date-stamped : 09 Jun2001 - 22:27