Pakistan outplayed (20 June 1999)

20 June 1999

Pakistan outplayed

Trevor Chesterfield

London (England) - Any psychological advantage Pakistan received from Wasim Akram's winning the toss against Australia rapidly turned into a mirage as the fourth World Cup final at Lord's turned into an embarrassment for the favourites.

Mentally they were on a different planet, their star sign slowly disintegrating as the tight, controlled and disciplined Australian bowling assumed total domination over the sub-continental giants who developed the feet of clay of an impostor.

This was not the side which had been so awesome when beating New Zealand by nine wickets five days before at Old Trafford in Manchester. As comprehensive as was that victory so were Pakistan during a batting performance of abject poverty and bereft of skill, flair and more important, technique. There was no fight, no spirit and no courage, and it showed. And with Shane Warne's subtle leg spin weaving a spell of cunning if not sorcery, the men in green soon lost their appetite for a genuine fight.

Brilliant catching supported quality ground fielding and on a reflective glance at the score of 132 there is the distinct impression Pakistan were lucky to get that far. Warne's spread of four wickets enabled him to equal New Zealand fast bowler Geoff Allott's World Cup record of 20 wickets.

The Pakistan batting was so poor at times that it made a mockery of the variety of pre-match labels which were collectively placed around their necks. In St John's Wood Road outside Lord's the chanting, blowing of whistles and hooters and waving of flags added to the carnival spirit; by mid-afternoon while there was certain spirit inside the ground outside there were tears and the sad, crumpled faces of the young supporters told of their grief.

Nothing was going to take away the pain as the distressed drifted into a blustery unpleasant afternoon. Perhaps Imran Khan, who with arrogant indifference, said Pakistan had peaked too soon was right; and perhaps Steve Waugh, the Australian captain, with his comment of Friday that his side held the psychological advantage after their technical win over South Africa four days before.

If England had played a tactically superior game five weeks ago when beating Sri Lanka in the game to open the tournament, Australia repeated it with far more spice to their game. It was as though they had learnt to tackle a handsome tandoori meal and now devoured it with the sort of appreciation of an expert. There were some sad and disappointing batting performances, none more so than those by Saeed Anwar and Inzamam-ul-Haq.

Anwar, ill at ease and comfortable, had his innings terminated by Damien Fleming with a ball which ripped through the tissue thin defences; Inzamam, doing his best to hold the team together departed in a disgruntled fashion, snapped up by Adam Gilchrist off Paul Reiffel's bowling.

It took an age for the portly middle-order batsman to drag himself reluctantly from the field, tugged unwillingly by a pair of slow-moving farm horses. As for the rest it was a display of batting as low class as any you are likely to get. They batted as badly as brilliantly as Australia bowled and fielded.