हिन्दीಕನ್ನಡമലയാളംதமிழ்తెలుగు

Pak has fire power to trounce Australia

Written by: Syed Saba Karim
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2000, 0:00 [IST]
 
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Displaying sparse skills in combating Glenn McGrath's workmanship, the Pakistani top order caved in. Wasim Akram, having won the toss, elected to bat, keeping in mind the condition of the wicket. The top order belied his expectations. Shahid Afridi, Ijaz and Inzamam were sent back for ducks by McGrath. That was the beginning of the downslide, from where Pakistan could not recover.

The first few overs of Wednesday's game blighted all hopes of any thrill. The incisive bowling of the Australians, coupled with piercing fielding, left the Pakistanis with no scope to live up to their captain's plan of putting up a fighting total.

The game was almost a repeat of the World Cup finals. It was McGrath and Warne who had then done the demolition job for Australia. Here at the MCG in the first final of the triangular series, McGrath combined with Brett Lee to send Pakistan reeling.

The Australians grabbed the opportunity which Pakistan provided by their inept batting and unprofessional attitude. After the top order collapse, the Aussies never allowed Pakistan to get back into the game.

Steve Waugh shuffled his bowlers efficiently. It was only due to Moin Khan's audacity that Pakistan reached 154. The score posed no problems for the Australians. Even though they lost two early wickets, Bevan and Ponting calmly took their side to an easy win.

Moin played a significant role in bringing in a shade of respectability to the Pakistani total. With half of the side back in the pavilion, Moin realised his responsibility. Showing great faith in the lower order, he rotated the strike well and displayed patience. He was adequately supported by his captain.

Pakistan needed a fighter like Moin to come out with a substantial knock. His dismissal in the 45th over was due to the clever trap laid by Shane Warne. Having been hit for a huge six, Warne lured him with his flight to get him caught. It was a crucial wicket for Australia as Moin is known for his combustibility in the slog overs.

It was left to the tail-enders to see through the full quota of overs. They were immature in their approach and instead of striving to get singles off each delivery, their effort was concentrated on big hits, to which they perished.

On the whole, there was no quick running between the wickets as the batsmen chose to be lethargic, showing lack of urgency in their approach.

McGrath has had a rewarding year. He rightly deserved all the accolades and praises as he is a great performer as well as an exemplary achiever. The Cricketer of the Year Award rests extremely well on his shoulders as he is the perfect icon for youngsters. He is the kind of cricketer who does not believe in resting on his laurels. He knew the importance of Wednesday's game and the expectations the team had in him. His bowling could not be handled by the Pakistanis and they succumbed to his consistent and blistering attack.

Brett Lee came out with a flourish of trumpets. Having been adjudged the Young Cricketer of the Year, he could not have proved it in a more telling manner. He bowled with verve, displaying a sensible head on young shoulders. Steve Waugh could not ask for more.

The Australians did not have to defend a large score. Could that be a reason for a bit of despondency exhibited by the openers? There surely was little that Gilchrist could have done to tackle Shoaib's pace which snared him and Mark Waugh.

The ray of hope for Pakistan got quickly extinguished by some cool and sensible batting by Ponting and Bevan. They ran their singles hard and did not allow Pakistan to bounce back into the game. Their defence was solid and their characteristic aggression brought in some swift boundaries too.

Australia did not want to lose wickets and both these youngsters ensured that with a fruitful partnership.

Shoaib Akhtar bowled with controlled fury. His first spell was sensational as he forged ahead with good change of pace laced with hostile yorkers. He bowled his heart out even in his speedy second spell, but his efforts could not prevent Australia from coasting through.

Australia are on a high. Pakistan have to play exceptionally well to beat them. Their best option is to bat first and put up a sizeable total as Australia have not shown great penchant for chasing. I reckon that Pakistan has the fire power to put Australia under pressure, but to do so their top order has to do some soul searching and deliver.

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