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Waqar, Razzaq shaped Pak win

Written by: Allan Border
Published: Monday, January 10, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
 
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Well, what a great comeback by the Pakistanis. At 6 for 60, I was starting to put pen to paper to describe another emphatic Australian win. I should have known better!

One-day cricket is unpredictable at the best of times, but Sunday at the Gabba ground, Brisbane, Pakistan, the most unpredictable of sides, turned the first match in the triangular series on its head.

The day started with a certain amount of drama, with the news that Shoaib Akhtar had been reinstated into international duties and would be arriving in Brisbane on a flight from Perth in time to take part in this game. There are some strange goings on at the ICC and no one was quite sure as to what had changed with Shoaib between being cited for chucking, stood down and now reinstated.

The whole saga seems quite bizarre. Nevertheless, Shoaib took his place in the Pakistan line-up and, given his lack of cricket, and the drama he has had to endure, his performance against the Aussies was quite outstanding.

It seems no coincidence that Shoaib's return to the fold gave the Pakistanis the inspiration and confidence they had been lacking in the lead up games against Australia 'A' and Queensland.

This match had many heroes for Pakistan but, for me, the player who turned things around for Pakistan was Waqar Younis. He is a brilliant cricketer who fights every inch of the way.

He arrived at the crease with his side struggling at 8 for 127 and his partnership with Saqlain carried the score to a respectable 8-184. The highlight was a straight six off the bowling of Glenn McGrath, which, I can assure you, doesn't happen all that often.

Waqar was then given the new ball by his captain, Wasim, who may have sensed that this was going to be his partner-in-crime's day. Wasim's faith was rewarded with an early breakthrough, the prized wicket of Mark Waugh.

Whenever Waqar is bowling, there is always something going on. He can be occasionally expensive, is not afraid to let the batsman know he is around and, more often than not, produces that special delivery that takes a big wicket.

He finished this game with 2 for 25 from 8 overs, all this from a man who was left out of the original squad. I am an Australian selector, so I am loathe to give the Pakistani selectors a hard time. But after today, I wish their original selection had been enforced.

Another hero from this match was young all-rounder Abdur Razzaq. After a slow start in the lead up games, he produced the telling spell of the match finishing with 4-23 from 8 overs.

I have seen a lot of this young man starting when he was in Australia two seasons ago with the Pakistani U-19 side. Even back then, he was a standout and I have taken special interest in his improvement and subsequent elevation to the senior side.

The Australians will be very disappointed with their performance but won't panic. Sometimes a timely kick in the backside doesn't hurt, given the ease with which Australia won both of the Test Series against the Indians and Pakistanis earlier in the year.

So, Pakistan has drawn first blood, which has set the scene for a very exciting triangular series.

Professional Management Group

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