June 23, 2001

Australia reign supreme in NatWest Series

Australia's distinct supremacy prevailed over Pakistan throughout this NatWest Series final, making it clearly one-sided as they coasted to victory by the overwhelming margin of nine wickets.

Both the pattern of play and indeed the result was practically a repeat of the World Cup final on this ground two years ago when Australia got home by eight wickets and Pakistan struggled to a total which was 20 fewer than today's.

Australia's magnificent performance in this final and, in fact, right through this series, has highlighted yet again the team's all-round strength which makes them such a formidable opponent in both forms of cricket.

From the start of the innings their opening batsmen had little difficulty in putting the side well on the way to the target of 153. Adam Gilchrist and Mark Waugh, who have formed such an effective opening partnership in limited overs cricket and given their side countless great starts, once again put up another superb display.

Waqar Younis took himself off after his five overs went for 32 and when Wasim Akram made way - after his first spell of seven economical overs, conceding fifteen - for Abdur Razzaq, Gilchrist went on the offensive straightaway.

He hit Razzaq for two sixes in each of his first two overs, the first over mid-wicket and the next was hit flatter and squarer. It took him to 38 and the total to 74. His unbeaten 76, from 93 balls, provided the highest entertainment value.

Four runs later, with Australia well over halfway towards their goal, Pakistan were finally able to break the stand although it wasn't through the effort of their bowlers. Mark Waugh, in contemplating a third run was run out for 36.

Man-of-the-match Gilchrist brought up his third successive half-century - off 77 balls - in this series in the 22nd over and two balls later the hundred came up off 131 balls. It was an expensive over from Saqlain Mushtaq, conceding eleven.

Ricky Ponting, helped himself to a six, again off Razzaq, to take the total to 116 for one and the bowler was taken off after his five overs had gone for 40. The 50 partnership between Gilchrist and Ponting came in only 33 balls as they eased Australia closer to their target. Ponting faced just 23 balls to remain not out with 35.

Halfway through their allotted 50 overs Australia were 139 for one needing only 14 to win - it illustrated how comfortably it was all going their way.

Earlier, Pakistan's innings, in the presence of a full house at Lord's, was an anti-climax. The combined pace and spin attack of Australia dismissed them in just 42.3 overs for a modest 152.

Pakistan failed to match the flying start they got off to in their previous match when they had 61 on the board without loss. This morning they lost four wickets before reaching that score with Australia striking important early blows. The opening batsmen were both dismissed in the first hour's play within fifteen overs.

Despite choosing to bat first in fine conditions - it was sunny and warm - on a pitch which had a tinge of green on it and offered some pace and bounce, Pakistan batsmen were unable to settle in.

Salim Elahi was the first to fall, with the total on 28, getting an outside edge to a ball from Glenn McGrath which appeared to be lifting a little. After the addition of 19 runs, Saeed Anwar played a poor shot, lofting the ball to mid-off and Pakistan were two wickets down for 47.

There were further disasters for them when, with the total on 60, two wickets went down. Yousuf Youhana was sent back by Inzamam-ul-Haq, who has never been renowned for his running between the wickets, and Youhana had little chance of getting back as the direct hit came in from Ponting.

Four balls later, Brett Lee had Younis Khan caught low at first slip without scoring. At the halfway stage of their knock - 25 overs - Pakistan were 78 for four and battling hard to steady the innings.

Razzaq's aggressive strokes brought him four quick boundaries but with Pakistan on 92, he mistimed his pull to be caught at short mid-wicket.

With Inzamam and Azhar Mahmood going within eight runs of each other, both falling to the leg spin of Shane Warne, Pakistan were 110 for seven and any hopes that they may have held of a recovery were rapidly diminishing.

Yet the highest partnership of the innings was to follow, with a 41-run stand. It ended with Rashid Latif bowled by Warne for 23 with the total on 151. A run later the last two wickets fell with 7.3 overs left. Warne finished with three for 56 while Harvey and Lee had two each for 18 and 20 respectively.

The occasion was marred by an unfortunate incident at the end. Just when it was thought that this match had been free of any trouble from the crowd, as has happened in some of the other games in the tournament, a beer can was thrown on to the balcony during the presentation ceremony and it struck Australian batsman Michael Bevan in the face. The police were quick to apprehend the offender.