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The Wisden Bulletin by Siddhartha Vaidyanathan
January 29, 2004
Australia 263 for 9 (Bevan 56, Martyn 42) v Zimbabwe. Match abandoned
Ray Price bowled with discipline and control, and getting Ricky Ponting didn't hurt, either
© Getty Images
Steady rain at the MCG forced the match to be abandoned after the Australian innings was complete. The umpires decided to call the match off at 20.35pm local time. Both teams split points (three each) and will now travel to Perth for their final match against India. Australia finished on a healthy 263 for 9 after 50 overs, despite losing wickets at regular intervals. Damien Martyn's 42 off 40 balls delighted the sparse crowd before Michael Bevan came to the fore with a run-a-ball 56.
Heath Streak opted to field first on a cloudy day, and with Andy Blignaut, tried to extract maximum movement off the pitch. There was hardly anything pitched short, but the line was wayward on a few occasions, and Martyn made them pay. When it was straight, he wristily turned the ball away to square leg. He came down the track a few times and lofted it crisply over the bowler's head. There was also his favourite slap-cut, when the ball was sprayed wide. No Gilchrist, no brutality. But his 42, off 40 balls, was gorgeous. And when he missed an in-cutter from Streak and was given out lbw, with rain imminent, he was visibly disappointed.
Matthew Hayden threatened to impose himself on the game after the brief break when he clattered Douglas Hondo to the midwicket fence. But he fell on the very next ball. Unsure about one that pitched on off stump, he managed an inside edge that ricocheted on to the stumps (69 for 2). Hayden made 23.
Ponting held things together as Michael Clarke (11) and Ian Harvey (23) fell after promising starts. Clarke completely misjudged a straight ball from Blessing Mahwire, the debutant, and shouldered arms as the ball clipped the top of his off stump (97 for 3). Harvey smacked a straight six of Ray Price's first ball, but was run-out after being sent back by Ponting (139 for 4). Ponting smashed a few himself, with a hoicked six over midwicket being the highlight. But just as he and Bevan went about setting up a launching pad, Ponting (35) attempted a wild slog-sweep, and the top edge was easily taken at square leg (155 for 5).
That left Bevan in familiar territory. Brad Haddin gave him good company and Bevan settled down into his role of nudging and pushing. Haddin lofted the spinners with ease and summoned the strength to clear the ropes a couple of times. Both put on 58 crucial runs, many of which were quick singles. Bevan favoured the third man region - 24 runs came there - and executed a few delicate late-cuts that could have easily been mistaken for edges.
Haddin (32) fell in the 43rd over, inside-edging a ball on to his stumps (213 for 6), and Brad Hogg followed soon after. But Andy Bichel joined Bevan and they accelerated in fine fashion. They added 38 in exactly five overs, and shifted the momentum to a considerable extent. Bevan went for a run-a-ball 56 as he attempted a risky second run in the penultimate over (252 for 8), but Bichel finished off with a towering six, and Australia had seized the initiative. Rain, though, had the final say.
What's wrong with their cricket? Well, what isn't?