Pak need to try Razzaq as pinch-hitter

Written by: Sunil Gavaskar
Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Glenn McGrath was voted the best Australian player and won the first ever Allan Border medal only a couple of days back, but he showed that he was hungry for more by producing a devastating opening burst that rocked Pakistan and ensured that any advantage the Pakistanis had after winning the toss was quickly nullified with those early wickets. Pakistan just did not recover after that, though Moin played another defiant innings to take them to a total of some respectability.

McGrath's first victim Afridi got a rising delivery that would have tested the technique of the most accomplished of batsmen, but his next two wickets were the result of some tight, accurate bowling. That made even an experienced campaigner like Ijaz flash at a delivery outside the off stump and the Australians do not drop such catches.

Inzamam has been going through one of the worst patches of his career and that has made him shuffle around in no man's land and exposed him to the leg before decisions that he has had in this series. Then Yousuf, after surviving a chance, did what Inzamam had done - needlessly shuffling and being caught in front of his stumps.

Saeed Anwar too has not quite recaptured the form of the Test matches and Pakistan depend so heavily on him to get them off to a start that when he does fail, the others find it difficult to lift themselves up.

Two of Pakistan's brightest young players -- Azhar Mahmood and Abdur Razzaq -- tried to steady the ship, but they are at their best when playing freely and they had to play a different game with the fall of those early wickets.

Steve Waugh captained the side superbly, and his bowling changes did not allow the Pakistanis any freedom. He brought Warne on early and also introduced Bevan, and it was the left-hander, bowling chinamen, who enticed Azhar to drive uppishly and broke the partnership that looked like taking Pakistan to a total of around 200.

It was Moin's inventiveness and daring that eventually got his side to a total that looked impossible, after that early spell from McGrath.

Australia's policy of picking the all-rounders gives them depth in the batting and some cover in case there is a collapse. And with the Pakistan bowling attack having the variety that it has, a team needs to have that sort of a back-up.

Shoaib Akhtar, who has been a bit off-colour after the first few games, came steaming in and shook the openers with a really speedy spell. At that stage, Pakistan would have fancied their chances if they had another fifty more. But the total was a meagre one and one decent partnership would have ensured that they were finished, which is what Ponting and Bevan provided.

Ponting made the most of some slack fielding to notch up another fifty as did Bevan after a quiet beginning. Though they were both out after getting their individual fifties, there were no alarms for the world champions as they cruised to an easy victory.

It was not quite exciting stuff for the spectators to watch, but the Australians, realising that there was another final as well as a tour to New Zealand, used the opportunity to bat without pressure and get valuable batting practice.

The Pakistanis will have to produce something extra and maybe reshuffle their batting order, pushing up as a pinch-hitter Razzaq, who, if he gets going, may make it easy for the out-of-form Inzamam. Otherwise, it may well be a two-final affair.

Professional Management Group

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