Pakistan rallies back to oust Aussies

Published: Sunday, January 9, 2000, 5:30 [IST]
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Pakistan team
AFP Photo
Australian team
AFP Photo
Moin Khan
AFP PhotoPakistan recorded one of its famous ODI victories in Brisbane on Sunday. From a precarious 60 for six, Pakistan recovered magnificently to 184 for 8 in 50 overs. Then, its lion-hearted bowlers sent Australia reeling to 139 all out in 39 overs. This was the first match in the Carlton and United triangular series. India is the other team. Pakistan has been longing for such a stupendous triumph almost from June 1999. On that June day, Australia, in the World Cup final, outplayed Pakistan.

In Oct-Nov 1999, Pakistan suffered a humiliating 3-0 defeat in the three-Test series against Australia. Thus Wasim Akram and his men must rate today's achievement as the most refreshing deed. A spirited show by the Pakistan tail earlier today seemed to have kindled the spirit of ambition in the Pakistan attack. The Pakistan bowlers bowled their heart out and the most shining star among them was young and enthusiastic Abdul Razzak (four wickets) . Waqar Younis who was back in the team excelled throughout. Shoaib Akhtar, who returned today to ODI from a controversial "ban", was as devastating as ever.

Saqlain Mushtaq did what champion spinners do in ODIs. And above all, Wasim Akram exhibited his leadership qualities. This morning, the Pakistan top order collapsed miserably. The Australian attack consisting of four seam bowlers in Glenn McGrath, Adam Dale, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds and a spinner in Shane Warne concentrated on the "off-stump" line and reduced Pakistan to 60 for 6 in 25.1 overs. Then came a grand recovery-act. Skipper Wasim Akram (35) and Moin Khan (33) put on 43 runs for the seventh wicket. Then a plucky ninth wicket pair of Saqlain Mushtaq (37 not out) and Waqar Younis (23 not out) amassed 57 runs at a brisk pace by the 50th over. Even that total (184 for 8 in 50) looked not enough to deal with an all-round combination like the current Australian side.

But the Pakistan bowlers had other ideas. Waqar Younis gave an early breakthrough trapping Mark Waugh leg before (one for seven). That proved enough to inspire the attack that began to apply enormous pressure. Yet, the next pair of Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting went about its task with circumspection. Suddenly, at 61 for one, Australia found the going tough. Razzak found the edge of Gilchrist's blade and wicket-keeper Moin Khan did no mistake. Then Shoaib Akhtar, who received an astounding reception from the crowd, sent back Ponting and Steve Waugh off successive balls (72 for 3 in 15.3 overs). Then it was the turn of Razzak to rattle the home team further.

He removed Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds off successive balls in the 19th over and then in the 21st over beat and bowled Brett Lee with an in-cutter (79 for 7). Australia could only waged a spirited but vain battle thereafter. Michael Bevan who had come in at 61 for two, and Adam Dale, the new man, took the score to 112 before Adam Dale put up a simple catch to Saeed Anwar off Shoaib. Shane Warne left Bevan at 132 and at 139 Moin Khan provided the finishing touches by effecting a run out to end McGrath's and, thereby, the Australian innings. On Monday, the two sub-continent giants --India and Pakistan--will meet.

Pakistan's top class performance on Sunday might as well give Pakistan the "favourite" tag. Moreover, India's morale is very low after the 0-3 debacle in the three-Test series against Australia. However, the history of the Indo-Pak ODIs would clearly show that these two teams perform at their best in these contests. Each player of both the teams will put that "extra special" into his effort. That naturally makes an Indo-Pak ODI a most enjoyable one. Thus Monday's encounter is bound to provide a lot of thrilling moments.

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