January 12, 2000

Pakistan defeat Australian Country XI

Mick Lange

The crowd at Manuka Oval numbered 500 at most. The majority belonged to the Pakistan High Commission and the local cricket-starved expat community, most of whom had taken the day off to get out to the ground and see their heroes. By late afternoon, when temporary captain Moin Khan brought himself on to bowl five overs, most of the crowd must have been wondering why they bothered.

Pakistan won the toss and on a Manuka ground which averages well over 250 runs per 50 over inning this season, there was only one decision for Moin to make. Australian Country opening bowlers Knight and Warden began well in what were good bowling conditions, with heavy cloud and regular light showers coming across the ground. In a tight opening spell Pakistan openers Shahid Afridi and Saeed Anwar were both back in the sheds within a quarter of an hour of the start, continuing their poor one day form which must be bothering the Pakistan management. The bowling initially troubled Wajahatullah Wasti and Inzamam-ul-Haq also, but when heavy rain began and the umpires kept the players on the field, the conditions deteriorated further and the bowlers and fielders had trouble with their control and footing.

When first change bowler Claypole dismissed Inzamam, Yousuf Youhana strode to the crease and immediately took control. He looks in great form and will score plenty of runs in the remainder of the Carlton and United Series. In 121 balls he cut, drove and pulled 16 boundaries and a six. The Australian Country bowling was by no means poor, but after Warden had finished his opening spell of 10-2-28-1, the rest of the attack had little answer to a batsman of class in the form of Youhana. From the time he came to the wicket until he left, Pakistan scored 224 runs in 35 overs, and he had 152 of them. When he left at 258/6, the eventual score of 283 was always going to be difficult for the locals, even though the Pakistanis had rested Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis and Shoaib Akhtar.

In the chase the Australian Country top order quickly fell behind the required asking rate of 5.92 from a rain reduced 48 overs, and the match quickly degenerated into farce. Although Shields and May both scored half centuries, Pakistan used 9 bowlers, including Moin, Youhana, Anwar and Wasti, who rarely if ever would have rolled the arm over. In truth, were this a serious match, the bowling actions of some of these never-bowlers would raise the interest of umpires, match referees and maybe even the ICC's illegal deliveries committee! But this was a picnic match, and they kept the small crowd amused for an hour long after the match had lost interest.