Unlikely hero Symonds destroys Pakistan in crucial game

Published: Wednesday, February 12, 2003, 3:28 [IST]
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Johannesburg: Andrew Symonds smashed one of the great innings in World Cup history as reigning champions Australia whipped strong contenders Pakistan by 82 runs in a controversial match here on Tuesday. Symonds hit Australia's highest World Cup individual score of 143 not out from 125 balls to help his side recover from an uncomfortable 86 for four to an imposing 310 for eight after being sent to bat. Pakistan, docked an over for slow over-rates, was shot out for 228 with 5.3 overs to spare as Ian Harvey picked up four wickets and Symonds contributed once again with a superb diving catch on the square-leg boundary.

Pakistan was reduced to 147 for seven before Rashid Latif and Wasim Akram hit 54 off 29 balls for the eighth wicket, both batsmen making 33 each. Symonds, whose selection for the World Cup despite poor form was a subject of heated debate in the Australian media, hit 18 boundaries and two sixes in his maiden One- day century. The 27-year-old Queenslander passed 50 for only the second time in his last 55 international innings and reduced what was expected to be a close encounter into a one-sided affair at the Wanderers. "It took a long time coming," Symonds said after receiving the man-of-the-match award from former New Zealand all-rounder Richard Hadlee.

"Its nice to get one under the belt, hopefully it will not be the last one." The key group 'B' match between the finalists of the last World Cup was marred by controversy when Pakistan captain Waqar Younis was ordered out of the attack for bowling a vicious beamer at Symonds. Australia took the field an hour after champion leg spinner Shane Warne withdrew from the tournament after a failing a drug test conducted back home before the team left for South Africa.. Left-arm spinner Brad Hogg replaced Warne, only to see the top half of the batting wrecked by veteran Wasim Akram, who finished with three for 64.

Wasim, One-day cricket's leading bowler, had Adam Gilchrist caught behind in his second over and then clean bowled Matthew Hayden and Damien Martyn off successive deliveries in his sxith. Jimmy Maher survived the hat-trick, but was soon caught behind off Waqar for nine. Australian captain Ricky Ponting hit 53, but Symonds seized the initiative by destroying what is considered one of the most lethal attacks in world cricket. The unstoppable Symonds added a rapid 70 for the sixth wicket with Hogg and 54 for the seventh with Ian Harvey to set Pakistan a huge target. "We bowled well at the start, but not in the middle overs and the end," Waqar conceded.

"Symonds played superbly and took the game away from us." Pakistan's innings never recovered after Shahid Afridi was caught behind off Jason Gillespie in the fourth over. Waqar's men were soon reduced to 81 for four as Taufiq Umar, Saleem Elahi and Inzamam-ul Haq proved no match for the Australian pace attack. "Its good to get four important points in the bag. It was tough work early on, but Symonds showed today what tremendous talent he has," Australian skipper Ponting said.

AFP Copyright AFP 2001

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