CricInfo at World Cup 1999
[PruHowzzat Contest, World Cup - England 1999]
   
Final: Australia v Pakistan, Match Analysis
Kris Srikkanth - 20 June 1999

CricInfo report

The Finals of the World Cup always has had loads of expectations and tension amongst the teams contesting to hold the trophy in their hands and also amongst the cricket crazy fans.

The finals between Australia and Pakistan was going to be a tense affair as both teams were equal in all respect. The bowling, batting and even their mental strength were on the same platform. The only difference being the ground fielding of the Pakistan, but then Asians are never known to be great fielders. Akram opting to bat first must have regretted that decision with McGrath bowling a fiery spell to the Pakistan openers. Wasti was the first to go, playing away from his body, only to be taken by Mark Waugh at second slip or was it the third slip!

After Anwar played one unto his stumps, the Pakistan backbone was back in the pavilion and the Aussies were elated. Razzaq was back in the vital No. 3 position in which he has scored consistently, but somehow without any reason he was shuffled around. He along with Ijaz was steadying the Pakistan innings when Razzaq played uppishly and was caught by Steve, lifting the ball inches off the ground. The Pakistanis had exhausted half their overs when Steve very smartly brought in Warne to keep the pressure intact.

He struck immediately by foxing Ijaz and got him bowled. This was a real surprise since Ijaz is a good player of spin and today was just not able to match his foot work.

Suprisingly, Moin was promoted up the order ahead of Akram and Afridi, no doubt Moin is a clean striker of the ball, but then Akram should have come ahead since he being a left handed batsman could have affected the line of Warne. Anyway, Moin was in and soon was out too, edging Warne to Gilchrist. The Pakistan batsmen were totally jaded today, their body movement not at all positive and they just seemed to lack the bite. Unfortunately an erroneous decision form David Sheperd saw Inzy being adjudged caught behind off Reiffel when the TV replays showed the ball missing the bat clearly.

Afridi and Akram were the last hope for the Pakistan side but Afridi in trying to break away from Warne played an unorthdox shot, across the line and was caught right in front. And when Azhar got deceived by the slow ball, sending it back to Moody for a simple return catch the writing was clear on the wall.

Akram had only the support of Saqlain on the other end and his wild sweep just reached Steve for a simple catch. Steve got all his fielders in when Saqlain defended a rising delivery which Ponting anticipated well in advance and took off like a plane to catch it in front of gully.

The Pakistanis were skittled for a measly 132 for which the Aussies must thank McGrath for his fierce opening spell and then Warne in the middle overs who once again stuck to his job. Also Rieffel and Moody chipped in with useful overs. But what stood apart was the extraordinary ground fielding of the Aussies they were fielding like men possessed and bar that simple drop by McGrath their fielding was explempary. Warne equalled the record of Geoff Allot and rightly deserved the landmark figure of 20 wickets, which was only due, since the Aussies have qualities of defiance and that is what Warne needed to defy his hard luck.

The Aussies started off their reply firing all guns, especially Gilchrist who throughout the tournament had a lean patch but today was in his elements, giving scant respect to the Pakistan bowlers. Akhtar was the unlucky one who was given the long handle by Gilchrist who very quickly reached his half century, but then that momentary lapse of concentration cost him his wicket. But by then the Aussies were cruising towards the victory mark. Ponting as usual was in his stride, smacking the bowlers disdainfully, but in the final moments of the game edged the ball to Moin off Akram. By then the Aussies were through and Mark Waugh and Lehmann guided them here without anymore casualties.

The joy was eminent in the Australian dressing room, winning the cup for the second time and emulating the West Indies. The Pakistanis were totally outplayed by a superior side and one would have expected the finals to have a nail biting finish - but alas it was a one sided game.

The World Cup has been a low-key affair, with a few suprises in the tournament, the hosts England out of the Super-Six, Zimbabwe nearly finding its way into the Semi-Finals, South Africans once again so close yet so far and finally the World Cup winners Australia having trouble with their form in early part of the tournament coming back strongly to lift the cup.

 
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