Friday is not the day for Pak

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Saturday, February 5, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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There is a very big section of cricket followers, not just Pakistanis, who believe that Pakistan is unbeatable on Fridays. Certainly in Sharjah they invariably have won on the day but here in Australia they found that Friday or not the home team was simply too good. To a great extent they have only themselves to blame for having won the toss and getting the opportunity to put Australia under some pressure in the First Finals they then ran into McGrath and helped him by playing some poor cricket. Australia had showed a little vulnerability in chasing targets having lost to Pakistan in their first match chasing a small total and against India too in the last match they got the runs only in the final over.

So there was the chance to put a score of about two hundred plus and with the variety that they have in bowling the Pakistanis would have been in with more than a good chance, but getting the paltry score that they did, just did not allow their bowlers any cushion to fight. Like the Indians against good fielding sides they are not good at chasing targets and so when they lost the toss today they must have known in their hearts that that was it. Whatever little chance they had was squandered by some of the worst fielding seen in the finals of a major event. The let offs to the openers and then to Ponting seemed to have sapped any resistance that they had and thereafter their body language was so negative that even their most ardent supporter would have given up hopes.

It was Gilchrist who started the carnage with his attack on Wasim Akram and though Shoaib Akhtar tried his best and bowled flat out it was not enough. The normally reliable Saqlain also went for plenty and the figures would not have made pleasant reading for all the bowlers. Mark Waugh has been helped enormously by having Gilchrist at the other end for with his quick scoring he has allowed Waugh to bat at his own pace and get his eye in and then play his shots. He has grown in confidence and his running today was outstanding as he matched the younger Ponting and totally exposed the Pakistani fielding.

Steve Waugh has not been given the credit he deserves for the shadow of Mark Taylor still hangs over the Australian side when comparisons are made. But the manner in which he has made bowling changes and his field placing has been almost perfect. Here he showed initiative in sending Symonds ahead of Bevan who in the previous match had won the man of the match award. Leave aside Indian captains how many of those who follow Indian cricket and who think they know more about the game would have accepted it with an Indian player. If it had been done there would have been cries of jealousy or worst still parochialism. We need to grow up not only in our cricketing aspects but in the following of it as well.

There was no respite for the Pakistanis as Martyn another of the fringe players in the side came in and belted the ball around to get Australia to their highest total in one day cricket beating the one they had scored against India only a few days back. There has been a lot of criticism of the Indian bowlers and much of it has been justified but an attack like the Pakistanis have has now gone for more than what the Indians had conceded and it just goes to show what an awesome side the Australians have become.

Everybody scored and contributed at some stage or the other of the tournament and the fielding has been out of the world. They are putting so much pressure with their athleticism not just while fielding but with their running between the wickets that other teams are looking flatfooted in comparison. The Pakistanis' best option was to play their natural game and not worry about the run rate. They are at their best while playing their shots but against the line and length that McGrath bowls it is well nigh impossible at least on the bouncy pitches here. And the extra pace of Lee also makes it harder to play the horizontal bat shots that can be so easily played on the sub-continent pitches. To build a tall building you need a good foundation and that has not happened with the openers failing regularly. With wickets tumbling regularly the match was over even before the half way mark was reached. Only the formalities remained and the matter of trying to get some runs and wickets against one's name.

This Australian team has simply gone from strength to strength and looks unbeatable what with the kind of disarray the rest of the world's cricketing sides are in. The only team that looks as if it would give some resistance to the Australian side is New Zealand but knowing the way the neighbours look at each other you can be sure that the Aussies will try even harder than they have in this their triumphant summer.

Professional Management Group

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