Cool Aussies put it across Pak

Written by: Ian Healy
Published: Friday, February 4, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
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Intimidation is a strong word and should be used carefully by those not fully in the know, but I'm prepared to say that it appeared for long periods at the SCG on Friday, in the Carlton and United final. Pakistan were a tense rather than the relaxed unit that their captain has tried to portray this week. Already under strain, they got decimated by the Australians again.

"Fortune favours the brave", rang true as the Australians pushed the limits of courage from the very beginning after winning the toss. Audacious strokeplay by Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting allowed Mark Waugh to ease into his knock which accelerated well later on. Gilchrist played like a man who has had enough of this series and wants it finished. In his book, the early overs are as good a time as any to rip a game away from an opponent, and I think he did just that.

If the chance he offered had been taken, when he was on seven, the momentum would have been totally different and the Pakistanis would've been able to build some pressure on new batsmen. After that chance was dropped, Gilchrist exploded rather than worried and launched into a boundary barrage. Waqar and Wasim were hammered, even though they weren't far off their plans. Pull shots , cuts and frontfoot drives were all manufactured without fear of dismissal.

Ponting didn't spend any time before he was madly pulling half-short balls and capitalizing on anything wide. He basically had a slog and even though there were plenty of conventional shots hit beautifully , there was absolutely no thought for the consequences of a bad shot. To me, that is a sign of confidence in the batsmen to come and the major difference between this summer's top orders.

Symonds, Steve Waugh, Shane Lee and Martyn all scored at a wonderful clip to post the highest score ever by an Australian team in a one-dayer. The Australian order clicked , but the fielding would have embarrassed the Pakistanis who never recovered from Youhana's early slip-up. To itemise the major errors would not do such good players any justice. Let's just say that they had a shocker in all aspects of their fielding and their bowlers were let down badly.

The series pattern then continued, as the Pakistani top order crashed . Afridi couldn't help himself once too often and top-edged Brett Lee to mid-on after scoring 19 from the previous eight balls. He was stung into action by a hit on the helmet by McGrath, who bowled quickly all spell. Two smashed 4's followed and the game was alight.

This situation requires the bowlers to execute their plans, so that if Afridi wants to smash every ball without assessing its merits carefully, then he must take risks. Brett Lee got it right, when he hit the pitch short of a good length and dead straight, so that Afridi was confused as to where to slog it. He couldn't decide quickly enough and was gone.

Anwar became the ninth player to pass 7,000 one-day runs with a powerfull pull shot from McGrath, but didn't go any further, as the leg-cutter next ball had him nicking. Ijaz didn't score a run in the finals which hurt, and although Youhana battled along with Mahmood and Moin, it was never at a rate which would threaten the record total.

The Aussie bowlers didn't give anything away once again, and if it was their opinion that Akram had started a war of words in the finals lead-up, they took it upon themselves to finish it. Pace, bounce, control and spin will have the best sides on edge in the future and it was unfortunate for all concerned that Pakistan didn't perform to the standard of one of those good sides.

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