Aussies set 280 for Windies to win opener

Published: Tuesday, September 12, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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Kuala Lumpur: A masterful 81 from Michael Clarke and quick-fire 56 by skipper Ricky Ponting helped Australia pile up 279 for the loss of nine wickets against the West Indies in the first One-dayer of the DLF Tri-series at the Kinrara Oval here today.

Electing to bat first after winning the toss, Australia's new opening pair of Simon Katich and Phil Jacques struggled in the initial overs with West Indies opening bowlers Fidel Edwards and Ian Bradshaw keeping them tight on a pitch that was hosting its first match.

Australia, which rested experienced players like Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds, Matthew Hayden and Mike Hussey to give chance to youngsters, lost the first wicket on the fourth over when Jacques played Edwards away from his body just to see an inside edge setting his off stump cart-wheeling. Jacques could make only two and Australia were 10 for one in the fourth over.

It was, however, a different ball game as soon as Aussie skipper Ricky Ponting arrived at the fall of first wicket. He was at his belligerent best taking both the opening bowlers Bradshaw and Collins to task.

Ponting rocked on backfoot to cut an pull with aplomb whenever the bowlers pitched short. A few hundred spectators were served the best of Ponting as the Australian skipper showed his penchant for drives on the up as well.

The Aussie skipper raised run-a-ball fifty runs partnership for the second wicket with Katich who was happy to play second fiddle to his captain.

Ponting didn't put any brakes to his free scoring, hitting Bravo for consecutive fours to raise his 53rd ODI fifty.

Australia were past hundred in the same over and Ponting was threatening to take the match away from the Windies. But Bradshaw provided the lucky break for the Caribbeans by removing Ponting in the very next over.

The Aussie skipper was done in by a delivery that moved in a bit and also kept low to hit him plumb in front of the wicket. Ponting made 56 in 54 balls with nine fours. Ponting's departure was soon followed by the wicket Katich as well as the left hander tried to break the shackles but could only manage to hole out to Bravo at mid off. He made 36 off 69 deliveries.

Bradshaw was again the successful bowler as the Australian innings was tantalizingly poised at 123 for three at the half-way stage.

It was once again time of rebuilding for the Australians and the captain-in-waiting for many experts -- Michael Clarke -- this time took the cudgels to propel Australian innings with enough fire power.

The fence-seeking Ponting shots were absent for now but Clarke and Cosgrove found many holes in the spread field to score at a healthy rate.

The duo were also involved in a fifty partnership which was broken only when Cosgrove tried to slog towards the late thirties overs. He was caught by Lara at mid on off DwayneSmith for 34.

With today's innings, Clarke re-enforced his growing reputation as man of crisis for Australia.

If Ponting had ran amok with his volley of boundaries and withdrawn back to the pavilion just when he was threatening to deliver the killer blow, Clarke was more sublime yet as effective as his skipper in bleeding the West Indies attack. He played the hard way, running many quick singles to keep the scoring rate steep.

There was occasional exuberance too, like the powerful spat of runs off Smith over the bowler's head for a lightening boundary.

Clarke too failed to keep promise of a masterful century as he fell on 81 cleaned up by Bravo. But his 79-ball essay laid strong foundation for the Australian late order to launch all out attack.

Some heavy bottom hand batting from Haddin and Mitchell Johnson who hit a huge six over long off in the 49th over saw Australia post a reasonably strong total of 279 for nine in 50 overs.

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