|AFP PHOTOAustralia took a 1-0 lead in the three-match final of the Carlton and United ODI Series against Pakistan at Melbourne on Wednesday. The home team, that won by six wickets, owed a great deal to its attack headed by brainy paceman Glenn McGrath, who gave them a rousing start. The next match will be played on Friday in Sydney. The Pakistan top-order batsmen did not know what had hit them so early in the innings. No doubt the bottom half of the batting line-up launched a spirited rally to help the side finish at 154 all out from 28 for five. |
But that total proved not enough to challenge the strong Australian batting line-up. Pakistan won the toss and chose to bat. McGrath exhibited his "line and length" craft in an amazing fashion. He got rid of Shahid Afridi, Ijaz Ahmed and Inzamam in his first two overs to reduce Pakistan to 3 for 3. Taking the cue from McGrath's stunning show, Brett Lee found the edge of left-hander Saeed Anwar's bat (12 for 4) and went on to trap a dangerous looking Yousuf Youhana leg before (28 for 5) in the third ball of the 15th over. Reduced to a state where even 100 seemed respectable, with 35 overs looming still, the remaining batsmen in the Pakistan batting line-up displayed commendable sense to dig in and prolong the innings till the 48th over.
The hero of this recovery, as always, was wicket-keeper Moin Khan, who blasted 47 runs off 48 balls with three fours and two sixes. Abdur Razzaq (24), Azhar Mahmood (16), Wasim Akram (15) and Saqlain Mushtaq (16) all played their respective roles admirably. McGrath (9-1-12-3) and Brett Lee (8.2-2-18-3) were the main wicket-takers. Shane Warne, Shane Lee, Michael Bevan and Andrew Symonds pitched in when called upon, bagging one wicket each. In their turn, Pakistan's bowlers put up a gallant fight. Shoaib Akhtar gave a flying start by removing openers Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh for 27 runs by the fourth ball of the eighth over.
He and skipper Wasim Akram tried all their known tricks, but the Australian third wicket-pair of Ricky Ponting (50 in 75 balls) and Michael Bevan put up stout-hearted resistance. The Pakistan attack, rated on par with that of Australia, just did not have a total that they could defend. Ponting did not resort to his customary heroics. But then, he and Bevan realised the need of their team and functioned accordingly.
The pair added 77 runs before Ponting fell to a diving catch by Razzaq off Afridi. Bevan (54 in 102 balls) left at 147. Steve Waugh and Damien Martyn, the next pair, denied Pakistan further success and saw their side through in the fourth ball of the 43rd over.