Australia v Pakistan|
Lord's - 20 June 1999
CricInfo report by John Houlihan and Alex Balfour
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Pakistani skipper Wasim Akram won the toss and chose to bat first under brightening skies with banks of fluffy white clouds lurking in the offing. Glenn McGrath took the new ball for the Aussies and opened with two rising balls which Anwar did well to keep down, but Saeed then cracked him crisply through the covers for the first boundary of the day and battle had commenced in earnest.
Anwar squirted one wide of the slips off Fleming in the second over and while the ball still occasionally beat the bat, Saeed looked to be in good touch following his impressive run of recent form. But just as the Pakistani openers looked to be settling, McGrath struck, producing extra bounce to catch the edge of Wastiís bat and Mark Waugh took a superb flying catch at second slip to dismiss the young opener. Anwar had got off to a flyer scoring 15 off 16 balls, but experienced a slight problem with his bat and there was a short delay as he paused to put another rubber grip on the handle. Perhaps the hiatus broke Saeedís concentration as first ball back, he reached outside the off-stump and played a ball from Fleming clean onto his stumps. McGrath, who had just signed for English county side Worcestershire, was bowling superbly in tandem with Fleming and the pair had produced a brilliant start for Australia on a helpful strip which must have left Wasim pondering his decision to make first use of the wicket.
With McGrath still producing plenty of bounce and Fleming starting to find his line after an expensive start, Ijaz Ahmed obviously had to consolidate and Abdur Razzaq was pushed up the order, possibly to protect Inzamam-ul-Haq from the swinging white Duke and the pressure imposed by the Australian bowlers. The pair looked to push some quick singles to keep the score ticking over, but the ball consistently beat the bat outside off stump and for a while the Pakistanis were certainly under the cosh. Paul Reiffel eventually came on to replace McGrath in the twelfth over and Tom Moody took over from Fleming at the Nursery end, but they seemed to lack the penetration of the new ball pair as Razzaq and Ijaz started to settle, with Ijaz punching Reiffel through point to post Pakistanís first fifty.
The match needed an injection of pace but neither the batsmen nor bowlers were prepared to change gear. Razzaq, with only 14 of 37 balls, lost his head and tried to loft Reiffel's penultimate delivery of the 17th over for four. The drive was mis-timed and sailed toward McGrath who cupped his hands English, rather than Australian, style, failed to set himself properly and spilled an easy chance. It was a miserable effort from McGrath and much more than the shot deserved. But fortunately only 9 runs had been added, , when Razzaq attacked an overpitched ball from Moody and drove into the path of Steve Waugh who dived forward and took a low catch on the roll.
Inzamam fended away Reiffel's next over, gifting the Aussie a maiden. Waugh brought Shane Warne on from the Nursery end, and hoped to unsettle Inzamam with a short point and a slip, but neither batsmen showed any nerves and after a brief interlude and another pedestrian Reiffel over, during which Inzamam ran a three to the crowd's astonishment, Warne returned and this time he put it in the right place and beat Ijaz with his first with some sharp turn from leg to off. Ijaz nodded to acknowledge the quality of the ball and came forward to the next two but waited on the fourth. It was a mistake and proved his undoing because he failed to read the leg break and played past it as the ball turned sideways and hit the top of off stump.
It was an important wicket for Australia even if Ijaz had looked unlikely to set the game on fire. Neutrals and Pakistanis alike were hoping for a bit of Moin magic and he showed some early promise turning Warne behind square for a near boundary, and edging the last ball of the over through third man for two. In as much as it's possible for anyone to enthuse Inzamam, Moin's positive presence seemed to spark Inzy and he played his first full blooded shot pulling Reiffel over to the boundary, only to find a fielder hovering on the rope.
Warne struck again with the first ball of the 28th over drifting a delivery beautifully toward from leg to off, Moin was forced to come forward and delivered a faint edge which Gilchrist gratefully pouched. The match was in desperate need of a cameo, and Afridi came out, above Mahmood and Wasim, determined to deliver. Steve Waugh left a tempting gap over mid on, too tempting for Afridi who pushed his first delivery away and lofted the second over mid on for four. He was lucky to survive an lbw shout off the last ball of the over, playing and missing across the line but Afridi brought up the hundred in the next over with a single though the covers off Reiffel.
The next breakthrough came not from Warne, whose fifth over lacked guile, but improbably from Reiffel. The Aussie veteran looked to be bowling out his ten without incident but his first ball seamed away from Inzamam outside off, beat him and umpire Shepherd gave him out caught behind. It was an extremely tough decision, and Inzamam made his displeasure clear when he ambled back to the pavilion as slowly as he could manage which was about the speed of intercontinental drift. Reiffel finished the over with figures of 10 overs 1 maiden, 29 runs for 1 wicket and If he tells his grandchildren how he won the World Cup with his parsimonious bowling, he might just get away with it until they see the video that is and in truth it was a pedestrian display matched by some equally pedestrian batting.
Warne's ambition seemed to get the better of him in his next over and he appealed for a catch as Afridi missed a sweep outside leg. Bucknor waited, deliberated, seemed about to give Afridi the slow death and then signalled a wide. But Warne had spotted the weakness, and after Afridi played a succession of sweeps without success, he was rapped on the pads and adjudged lbw in a surprisingly quick decision from Bucknor.
Lest Pakistan felt their luck might change, McGrath returned in the 33rd over and found some bounce and lift. It might have pleased new bat Wasim Akram were it not for the fact that Pakistan clearly hadn't made enough runs to make the most of it after the break. McGrath was no doubt thinking that, as at their last outing at Lord's against Zimbabwe, all Australia needed was a wicket, but Wasim had other ideas and hit a wonderful cross batted six over long on off Warne. Azhar then belted McGrath through the covers in the next over for another boundary and the big question was could this pair rescue the game for Pakistan?
Waugh, unwilling to risk the possibility of a Wasim and Mahmood partnership replaced McGrath with Moody at the pavilion end. Perhaps he was tempting the batsmen a little too much, as Moody bowled very full to both players restricting their ability to drive. A slightly overpitched ball, the last of the over, had Mahmood coming forward on the drive and Moody picked up a fine return catch at boot height. Two balls later Wasim tried to slap Warne over midwicket but only managed to pick out Steve Waugh and any lingering Pakistani hopes were rapidly fading.
Straight away McGrath came back on and bowled with uncharacteristic composure against the tail enders. He had his reward when Saqlain seemingly edged the last ball of the over wide of third slip, but Ponting launched himself to his right and just managed to take the catch in the palm of his upturned hand. A brilliant effort and a welcome sop for the crowd, but not enough to convince them that they had witnessed a true contest.
Chasing a target of just 133 Australia needed to get off to a solid start as openers Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist faced the fearsome new ball prospect of Wasim Akram and Shoaib Akhtar in tandem. Shoaib induced a top edge from Gilchrist which fell inches short of the in rushing fine leg, but the Aussie keeper produced a fine drive through mid off to post Australiaís first boundary of the day, then rocked back to thrash Wasim through point as he got off to a flyer. Mark Waugh gave a difficult chance which produced a despairing dive at square leg, but later played a flowing cover drive which rattled into the boundary boards as Australia got off exactly the kind of rapid start they required.
Shoaib was working up a mighty pace in his opening spell with most deliveries registering 90mph plus on the speed gun and such was the raw pace of the man, Gilchrist top edged him for six over third man, then drove him cleanly through mid-on for successive boundaries. With positive running and some fine drives from Gilchrist, the Aussies were soon making deep inroads into the Pakistani total and Abdur Razzaq eventually replaced Akhtar in an effort to stem the flow. But such was the speed of the Australiansí scoring, that they posted their fifty in only the eighth over and Gilchrist in particular looked in excellent touch and seemed to have an appointment elsewhere, as he sped towards his own fifty with some powerful pulls, exquisite cuts and scintillating drives. The Aussie keeper posted his half-century in the tenth over, pulling Razzaq stylishly through mid wicket for a sparkling fifty which included 8 fours and 1 six and was made off only 33 balls as the Aussies hurtled ever onwards towards victory .
In a desperate attempt to make the breakthrough, Wasim Akram turned to Saqlain Mushtaq and it proved an inspired choice as he had almost immediate success inducing Gilchrist to be caught by Inzamam-Ul-Haq at mid on for a superb 54, which had the crowd rising to its feet to applaud the Aussie keeperís return to the pavilion. Wasim brought Shoaib Akthar back to pressurise new batsman Ricky Ponting, but the Tasmanian seemed unfazed and began playing his strokes from the off. Australia had obviously decided that the best policy in approaching a small target was to be positive and Ponting was soon pulling Aktar through square leg and then driving him straight for successive boundaries. As the Australian hundred approached, the Pakistaniís body language appeared to already be conceding defeat and the game seemed to be as one sided as a double headed coin.
As Wasim brought himself back on in a totally lost cause, Australia rattled their hundred up in the fifteenth over and even Shoaib Akhtar was reduced to scratching his head in bewilderment as if he couldnít quite believe what was happening. Even a ragged chorus from the small Pakistani contingent who had managed to make it into the ground couldnít raise their teamís spirits and the drinks cart came as a welcome, if temporary relief to the men in lime green. As the sun beamed down beatifically on the Australians, the game began to take on an air of utter inevitability and as the final overs were played out, the Pakistani fielding looked increasingly shabby as Waugh and Ponting eschewed any fireworks and seemed content to condemn the Pakistanis to death by inches. Wasim managed to snare Ponting for a well made 24 as the Aussie batsman caught a palpable edge to the keeper and walked before any decision was necessary.
With Wasim Akram and Azhar Mahmood acting out the role of the orchestra on the Titanic, playing on valiantly as the ship went down, Mark Waugh and Darren Lehmann began to pick off the remaining runs at will, with Lehmann driving pleasantly through the covers to leave Australia needing under ten for victory. Mark Waugh clipped Wasim crisply through mid wicket and with just four runs needed for victory Wasim produced a decent yorker which Mark Waugh played with utter serenity. A ridiculous pitch invasion by some Pakistani spectators was fortunately dealt with quickly and Darren Lehmann thrashed Azhar Mahmoodís first ball of the twentieth over to the point boundary to post the winning runs for Australia and a well deserved, if thoroughly anti-climactic victory.