Published: Wednesday, January 19, 2000, 5:30 [IST]
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AFP Photo
AFP Photo
AFP Photo
AFP PhotoThe Australian dominance on a near-perfect batting strip at the Sydney Cricket Ground was very much pronounced on Wednesday. The home team made short work of Pakistan by 81 runs and remained at the top of the points table in the three-nation ODI Series. Australia, with this win, had eight points from five matches followed by Pakistan (four points from four encounters) and India (nil from three outings).

Today Australia won the toss and, as expected, elected to bat. Wasim Akram, the Pakistan skipper, exhibited his class. He made life difficult for the Australian openers Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist with some imaginative swing and seam bowling during his opening spell. . Wasim Akram,easily the best left-arm seam bowler of modern era, removed Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting off successive balls in the ninth over to reduce Australia to 23 for 2.He made Gilchrist to chase a well-directed outswinger and wicket-keeper Moin Khan did no mistake with the snick. Off the next ball, Wasim Akram stunned Ponting with s vicious in-cutter for a successful lbw verdict. Then came the period that underlined the enviable depth enjoyed by this Australian combination.

Michael Bevan who enjoys a 60-plus average on ODIs for nearly four seasons now came up with yet another tenacious performance that ensured his team of a highly satisfying total. He added 90 valuable runs for the third wicket with Mark Waugh (43) before the latter played a ball from Shoaib Akhtar on to his stumps (113 for 3 in 25). And two overs later, Akhtar struck again, this time, finding the inner edge of Steve Waugh. The ball went on to disturb the stumps (132 for 4).

Bevan went on merrily till 177 when he lofted Azhar Mahmood into the hands of Akhtar. He made 77. That was in the 38th over third ball. The next 10 overs were dominated by Damien Martyn (50), Andrew Symonds (47 in 26 balls) and Shane Lee (26 off 13 balls). So 109 runs came off the last 10 overs. Pakistan skipper Wasim Akram covered himself with glory when he got the wicket of Martyn (246 for 6) who was caught by Ijaz Ahmed.

That was Wasim Akram's 400th ODI wicket. He is the first ever bowler to have reached this mark in this version of the game with his nearest rival being at 290 (Waqar Younis). This was Wasim Akram's 285th match. Earlier Mark Waugh had reached the 7000-mark in ODIs. This was his 203rd match. Australia's total of 286 all out in 48.4 overs looked really imposing considering the brittleness of the Pakistan batting line-up. Pakistan's strength has always been its bowling. And today too its six-man attack of Wasim, Waqar, Shoaib, Razzak. Saqlain and Azhar Mahmood did a commendable job by taking all the ten Australian wickets.

After all it was a fine batting strip and Austrlia enjoys an enviable batting line-up. That the Australian team is boastful of an excellent bowling line-up too made all the difference to today's match. Today Australia brought in leg-spinner Stuart McGill and the attack gained in variety. McGill accounted for four dismissals and justified his selection.

The Pakistan batsmen tried their best to put up a spirited challenge. But then, no pair of batsmen promised to stay there long enough to provide the needed foundation for such a venture. Wickets fell at regular intervals to the intelligent Australian attack that was backed by splendid fielding, as usual. So it was all over by the 46th over.

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