Australia denied Pakistan a hat-trick of wins in the three-nation ODI Series on Sunday in Melbourne. Chasing a victory target of 177 in 41 overs, the home team was through with six wickets and 2.1 overs to spare. Skipper Steve Waugh played an inspiring innings and got the 'man of the match' award. Pakistan had won both its earlier matches thanks to some brave efforts by its tail-enders. On Jan 9, after making only 184, it contained Australia to 139. Then on Jan 10, chasing 196 against India, it clinched a 'last ball' win through its unbroken ninth wicket pair. Today, the Pakistan bowlers found the Australian middle-order a tough nut to crack. Today, a long spell of rain delayed the start.
Hence the match was reduced to a 41-over-each-side format. Australia chose to field and the move paid rich dividends as Pakistan tumbled to 106 for 7 in 30.5 overs. But, as was seen in the earlier two encounters, the Pakistan tail excelled to take the score to 176 for nine. Abdul Razzak (51 not out off 54 balls), the number eight batsman, was the batting hero of the morning session. He and Saqlain Mushtaq (11) added 38 runs for the eighth wicket that was followed by a 32 run stand between Razzak and Waqar Younis (8) for the ninth wicket. Waqar was out off the last ball of the innings, caught by Adam Gilchrist off Glenn McGrath. Earlier, Saeed Anwar (49) and Yousuf Youhana (20) put on 45 runs for the fourth wicket. For the second match in succession in this Series, Australia entered a game without a spinner.
Leg spinner Shane Warne is nursing an injury and he was not replaced by spinner but by a seamer. That left the Australian attack in the hands of Glenn McGrath, Damien Fleming, Brett Lee, Shane Lee and Andrew Symonds. These bowlers did a commendable job till they found a brave Pakistan tail. Pakistan one of cricket world's best bowling sides began on a grand style. Shoaib Akhtar sent back Adam Gilchrist (lbw) and Ricky Ponting (caught by Wasti in the slips) to make Australia 32 for 2 and six runs later Youhana effected a run out with a direct throw to end Mark Waugh's innings. Then came Steve Waugh who demolished the rhythm out of the Pakistan attack.
With Michael Bevan (15) Steve Waugh took the score to 92 (21.3 overs) before tragedy struck the home team. Bevan just could not beat Youhana's throw to wicket-keeper Moin Khan. At that juncture, the outcome looked anybody's guess. But Steve Waugh found yet another stout-hearted partner in Damien Martyn and led his side to a convincing win. The two progressed through methodical efficiency and it was all over by the fifth ball of the 39th over.
Steve Waugh remained not out on 81 (92 balls, 5x4, 1x6) and Martyn on 39 (61 balls). With this win, the home team rose to top the points table with six points from four matches (3 wins and one loss) followed by Pakistan (four points from three matches) and India (nil from three matches).