June 9, 2001

In the end it turned out to be a no contest

Mudassar Nazar
Mudassar Nazar
Photo © CricInfo
Given the history of Rashid Latif's chronic back trouble I did have reservations about his selection at this time. He'd been out of international cricket for a number of years and his relations with his teammates could hardly be described as harmonious. Under such circumstances one needs superhuman mental toughness in order to perform. Well, here we have it, he has given everyone ample proof on this tour, he's the toughest kid on the block!

Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi on his way to a quick fire 11 runs
Photo © CricInfo
Waqar Younis won the toss again and predictably, elected to bat because Cardiff's pitch looked a good one-day track. There was even bounce for batsmen to get excited about but then Pakistani batsmen were pitted against two of the best bowlers of modern day cricket. There were early signs, Brett Lee was not at his best but he was good enough to get rid of Shahid Afridi who looked ill at ease throughout his brief stay. Quite noticeably, not a single ball was pitched up to him and this unsettled him. You can bet on your life, these Aussies will give him the same dose every time, unless he changes his game.

Razzaq was decidedly uncomfortable against Lee when he strolled in at number three. Saeed Anwar was equally so against Glen McGrath, who had him all at sea in his first spell. Using full advantage of his height, he extracted pronounced bounce out of this good batting pitch and once hit Saeed a painful blow on his left shoulder. Pakistan weathered this storm competently then lost it in a hazardous fashion.

Razzaq and Inzamam threw their wickets away in a moment of madness. Both were stumped in the same over, trying to manhandle Shane Warne. I am afraid Warne is far too experienced a bowler to let these guys take liberties. Inzamam's intended slog was atrocious, especially so early on. I know he's been getting a lot of runs recently but he should cast his mind back on the last Australian tour when he looked so out of touch for most of the tour. He's in great form and should make the most of it. It was a dreadful mistake and put Pakistan on the back foot immediately.

Younis Khan must by now hate the English umpires. Peter Willey (an old friend) has always been rather trigger-happy. Out of his six international innings on this tour, Younis has unfortunately been victim of poor decisions on at least three occasions. He must be outraged as well as devastated. Remember, he is in good nick and could make all the difference to this ailing batting line up.

Yousuf Youhana
Youhana with a delicate leg glance in his innings of 91 not out
Photo © CricInfo
Pakistan from 85 for 6 managed to pile up 257 runs and Rashid and Youhana were quite magnificent. If only we could get a decent start in every game. Time and again Inzamam and Youhana have bailed Pakistan out in the last eighteen months. Imagine how belligerent these two batsmen would be if they came into bat at 150 for two.

Rashid has been a revelation on this tour. Every week, we deliver a lecture on mental toughness in our National Cricket Academy and I can assure you, Rashid Latif will be requested to give more than one lecture on this subject.

Pakistan missed him behind the stumps when he could not keep wicket because of an injury. He and Youhana made sure Pakistan remained competitive in the game by scoring very attractive fifties and one can say they did not deserve to be on the losing side.

Ricky Ponting
Ricky Ponting on his way to a score of 70
Photo © CricInfo
When you are defending a total like this, it's important not to concede free runs in the early overs. Pakistan let Australia off the hook and their batsmen romped off to an electric start. For some reason, Ricky Ponting saves his best for Pakistan and is so cocky against all our bowlers. Not many batsmen in the world can take as much liberty against Shoaib Akhtar as he does. He is super quick on his feet and relishes fast bowling. After hitting fast bowlers all over the field he just struts around like a king. I can tell you, many a fast bowler in my era would have hated his guts and done something to curb his style. Anyway, with Mark Waugh as his partner he took the score to 133 before Mark bid him goodbye.

Razzaq and Khan
Bowler Razzaq hugs emergency keeper Khan who has just caught out Mark Waugh
Photo © CricInfo
It was a typical one-day dismissal. In trying to run Razzaq down to third man with an angled bat, Mark Waugh was comfortably caught behind. Mark had looked in supreme control of the game and it's hard to imagine that a player of his ability has been made to fight for his place in the team during the last Australian Cricket season. Ricky Ponting, as is his wont, soon got carried away and trying to slog Saqlain over mid-wicket picked the wrong ball and was comfortably caught at long on by Razzaq.

I was excited for a little while because Pakistan was given an opportunity to push at the Australians. Pakistan knew they'd have to bowl Australia out, to win this game as the Aussies had ample overs to canter home after this brisk partnership.

I think Waqar should have introduced Saqlain a lot earlier than he did. Bevan is a master at work in the one-day game, especially when he does not need to score at a furious pace. His timing is immaculate and picking up gaps in the field is his hobby. He makes batting in one-dayers look so easy. He truly is a great batsman for this particular form of cricket.

Steve Waugh made sure Pakistan stayed on the back foot. What a tremendous cricketer he is. At the start of his career there was a strong rumour this chap was a pushover if you bowl short at him. He's proved everybody wrong.

In the end it turned out to be a no contest. The Australians like in the World Cup final were all over our team. Maybe they have some kind of mental hold over the Pakistanis? Come on boys, it is time to push the Australians back.

Ed: Mudassar Nazar is a veteran of 76 tests and 122 ODIs. He is currently the chief coach of Pakistan's National and Regional Cricket Academies. In view of the overwhelming interest of users in CricInfo's articles, we have invited him to write for us.