Steve Waugh decided to bat on a hard, bare pitch which bounced and seamed with the new ball, then flattened to become ideal for blazing shots to all parts of the SCG. Bevan and Mark Waugh put on 90 which they built slowly and the Pakistani attack was performing excellently. As has been the pattern all season, sustaining good performance has been the problem for the visiting teams against the Australian depth.
Bevan was dismissed with just 12 overs to go but what was in store was pure excitement and skill to go with it. 22 runs were taken from Saqlain's eighth over when Symonds unleashed some awesome shots. To make such power look so easy is a quality this young man has always had and I'm so pleased the public are now seeing him relaxing at the highest level. Martyn was no slouch either handing in a fifty for Shane Lee to finish the attack with a brisk 26 as well.
They started as if they had just 30 overs to get them, posting their hundred in the 15th over thanks to Anwar, Ijaz and Razzaq. The Aussies showed the summer's first signs of pressure, with several fielding blunders and a missed catch, but they combined well. Fleming held steady as McGrath received amazing treatment from all bats, with his fifth over copping five consecutive four's by Razzaq. His record breaking spell of 4/8 in the last game in Sydney was a distant memory as his first five overs went for 61.
MacGill debuted impressively turning the ball a long way and he stemmed the flow of sparkling shots. The big strokes dried up, when maybe the batsmen could have kept going at the spinner, to have him under some sort of pressure. Spin and excellent control hurt the batting order and his return of 4/19 when the game was at it's hottest was enjoyed by all and gained him the man of the match honours. An even more significant achievement than MacGill's debut was attained in the afternoon innings by Wasim Akram when he had Martyn caught by Ijaz to take his 400th one day wicket, a stand alone world record. This man's statistics are mind boggling especially when you consider the time he's spent playing in England as well as the years of toil internationally.
The pitch allowed a free flowing batting game but offered great assistance to all types of bowlers too. This Australian team continue to make their own luck and capitalise on their opponents errors. A missed stumping chance and an poor LBW decision both on Bevan may have had an effect on the match but as it turned out it would only have given Symonds more time to fire. Half chances aren't being converted often enough by anyone other than Australia and this loss by Pakistan keeps India's hopes of a finals berth alive. They must beat Pakistan firstly on Friday and then continue the same, but the half chances that the Australians are pouncing on to create run outs, make catches and generally cause hesitation in their opponents, must be copied from now.