Australia extend their lead
Australia extended their lead at top of the Carlton & United Series tonight with a comprehensive 81-run win over Pakistan at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Pakistan were dismissed for 205 in 45.2 overs after Australia made 286 in 49.4 overs. Stuart MacGill was named man of the match on his ODI debut, taking 4/19 in his ten overs.
Steve Waugh won the toss and Australia batted first in the sixth game of this year's series. Brett Lee was rested with MacGill coming into the team. Azhar Mahmood came into the Pakistan side replacing Wajahatullah Wasti.
Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist opened the batting as usual for Australia in hot, sunny conditions, against the bowling of the old firm of Wasim and Waqar. Akram opened tidily but Waqar gave up 15 runs in his three over spell and was quickly replaced by Abdur Razzaq.
With the score at 23, the Pakistan captain struck twice at the start of the ninth over of the day. Gilchrist (13) attempted a cut outside off but didn't have the correct line and gave an edge to Moin Khan.
Acting Australian vice-captain Ricky Ponting came to the crease and was trapped plumb lbw first up with a ball pitching on middle and leg. Ponting completed his third consecutive duck of the Carlton & United Series. It is worth remembering that he broke a string of three ducks in Test innings earlier this season by knocking up 197 in his following knock against Pakistan at the WACA.
The double blow gave Wasim Akram his 398th and 399th wickets of his long ODI career as he gave Pakistan an early initiative.
Michael Bevan survived the hat-trick ball by taking a legbye. Later that over, Mark Waugh played a lofted square cut to the boundary to bring up his 7000th ODI career run, the first Australian to reach the milestone.
Bevan and Mark Waugh consolidated for Australia. Their third-wicket partnership was worth 90 runs before Waugh lost his wicket on the last ball of the 25th over. At the half-way mark, Australia were 113 for three.
Steve Waugh became Shoaib Akhtar's second victim of the day at the end of the 29th over. Beaten for pace attempting a cover drive, the Australian captain lost his off stump after scoring six.
Bevan continued to play superbly, surpassing his career average of 58.99 in only his fourth career ODI fifty at his home ground.
Bevan's fine innings of 77 came to an end when the New South Wales left-hander, promoted to No 4 fell just two runs short of his highest ODI score on his home ground. Bevan fell in the 38th over to Azhar Mahmood. Having smashed the Pakistani all-rounder for his seventh boundary of the innings, he lofted the very next ball to long-on where Shoaib Akhtar took a simple catch. The extrovert Pakistani speedster waved to the crowd as they rose in acknowledgement of Bevan's innings, in which he faced 97 deliveries.
Exceptional batting in the late overs by the Australians, especially Andrew Symonds, assisted by indifferent fielding, saw the home side add 101 runs in the last ten overs before being dismissed for 286. Slow bowling by the Pakistanis, which saw the innings run 18 minutes overtime, meant that they were docked one over when it came to their turn to bat. Match referee Cammie Smith made allowances for the hot conditions earlier in the afternoon, which otherwise could have left Pakistan facing around 47 overs.
Amidst the Australian onslaught, an unprecedented career highlight fell Wasim Akram's way as he became the first bowler to take 400 career ODI wickets when he dismissed Damien Martyn. The Pakistani captain received a standing ovation from the SCG crowd. He has taken 110 wickets more in his fifteen-year career than the second leading ODI wicket-taker, Waqar Younis (290).
Martyn and Symonds added 68 for the sixth wicket before Martyn skied a ball to Ijaz Ahmed, having completed 50.
Symonds (47 from 26 deliveries) played an innings of rare brutality, which included one of the shots of the season, when, facing Shoaib Akhtar, he backed away to leg stump to smash the ball through mid-off for four, picking up the line of the ball with rare speed. Symonds hit two sixes, one to long off from Saqlain Mushtaq, and one flicked with remarkable ease off the hip over backward square leg off Abdur Razzaq.
Symonds fell when he lofted Razzaq to Azhar Mahmood. Shane Lee (26 from 13 balls) played a bright late-order cameo, but Fleming went first ball and MacGill was run out going for a quick single.
Wasim Akram (3/40) was the best of the Pakistan bowlers. Shoaib Akhtar and Abdur Razzaq took two wickets each.
Pakistan launched into their innings with all guns blazing as they pursued the 287 for victory. Glenn McGrath, who had taken 4/8 from his last ten overs on this pitch last Friday, came in for special treatment from Saeed Anwar and Ijaz Ahmed as Pakistan registered their first 50 runs in 5.2 overs.
The first ball of the innings saw Anwar struck amidships by McGrath, but from then Pakistan launched a ferocious onslaught as they attempted to make amends for a substandard effort against Australia during the afternoon.
Ten runs off McGrath's first over were followed by 19 off his second. Ijaz slugged McGrath over the long-on fence before being dropped by Bevan off a skier which swirled in the gusty wind. The next ball was smashed to the mid-off fence.
It was left to Damien Fleming from the southern end to make the first brreakthrough of the innings in the fourth over. Ijaz went for another slog which was lofted to Steve Waugh at mid-wicket. Ijaz made 23 from just eleven deliveries, the opening stand 34 from 3.2 overs.
With McGrath's first three overs going for 36 runs, Waugh made an extremely unexpected bowling change in bringing on Damien Martyn. Eleven runs later and Martyn's one-over spell came to an end. McGrath returned to replace Martyn, but the first ball of his second spell saw Saeed Anwar run out, the result of a brilliant return from the outfield by Martyn, uprooting middle stump. Anwar made 23 from 25 deliveries.
At the end of the tenth over Pakistan were 74 for two with Abdur Razzaq and Inzamam ul-Haq the men at the crease.
It was a tough evening at the office for McGrath. His fifth over of the match, and the eleventh of the Pakistan innings, saw Abdur Razzaq despatch each of the first five deliveries for four. McGrath was duly put out of his misery with figures of 5-0-61-0.
His replacement at the northern end was MacGill. The leg-spinner struck with the final ball of his first over. Abdur Razzaq failed to pick the spin, and lofted a cover drive straight to McGrath, making amends for his bowling failures earlier on. Razzaq faced 38 balls for his 40.
At the end of 15 overs, with the fielding restrictions coming to an end, Pakistan were 3/105.
The Pakistani run-rate began to fall as MacGill took control, but the next wicket to fall was claimed by Shane Lee, who trapped Inzamam ul-Haq (12) plumb lbw. MacGill claimed his second wicket when he had Yousuf Youhana (10) caught behind by Adam Gilchrist at the start of the 21st over.
MacGill claimed his third wicket of the innings when he removed Azhar Mahmood for just one run. Azhar lobbed a cover drive taken by Shane Lee in a simple overhead catch.
McGrath was switched to the southern end following a tidy spell by Mark Waugh, and struck from the sixth ball of his new spell, Moin Khan (13) popping a simple catch to Symonds at mid off.
MacGill claimed his fourth wicket of the night in the 29th over. Saqlain Mushtaq (2) attempted a sweep shot to a ball pitching in front of leg stump. The ball struck him on the pads and though there was some turn from the leg, umpire Steve Davis adjudged that the ball would have collected the stumps.
The Australians were now in total command but the match dragged out into an exercise in maximising the net run-rate for Pakistan after the fall of the eighth wicket, Wasim Akram (23) and Waqar Younis (37) actually putting together the best partnership of the innings, 43 in 9.2 overs.
Waqar survived a third umpire call on 18 when he played the ball low to Steve Waugh at mid-wicket. The Australian captain was unsure whether he had taken the catch, and none of the TV replays gave a clear view.
Akram was the ninth wicket to fall when he lofted Shane Lee to mid-wicket for MacGill to take the catch.
The last wicket stand dragged on for seven overs, as encouraged by the playing conditions surrounding calculation of net run-rates, ie, the longer Pakistan batted, the more favourable the net run-rate. With Steve Waugh using everyone bar himself, Ponting and Gilchrist as bowlers, the end came when Waqar was trapped lbw by Andrew Symonds. Waqar's 37 represented his highest score in 179 one-day internationals. Shoaib Akhtar remained unbeaten on 3, taking his ODI career average against Australia to 49.
MacGill, who finished his first one-day international with 4/19 from ten overs, won the man of the match award for his efforts. Shane Warne may not be needed back so quickly.
Pakistan now travel to Hobart to play India on Friday.