ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features

Australia v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo

After the streak, Australia can get on with business

Now that the 34-match streak without a World Cup loss is over, Australia can go back to being just another team in the tournament, and their captain Ricky Ponting says they can learn from the loss

Brydon Coverdale at the R Premadasa Stadium

March 19, 2011

Comments: 49 | Text size: A | A

Not even Muhammad Ali boasted an unbeaten streak this great. It has taken 34 matches, but Australia have finally been defeated in a World Cup game for the first time since 1999. In that time, three titles were won, 15 different opponents were vanquished and 34 players were used to keep the sequence alive.

Nobody really expected it to last this long, and now that it has ended, Australia can go back to being just any other team in the tournament. That's no bad thing. Expectations are lowered, pressure is lifted and any lingering aura that surrounded the team will fade.

The captain, Ricky Ponting, never likes to lose but was pleased the streak finished in the group stage rather than the upcoming knockouts. And after a month on the subcontinent with barely a threat from any of their previous opponents, he hopes the loss to Pakistan will help his side as the business end of the tournament approaches.

"To be honest, I don't think the loss will hurt us at all," Ponting said. "I know for a fact the guys haven't been thinking about the winning streak at all because it hasn't been mentioned around our group or our change-rooms or meetings or anything. I think the fact that we've played a good Pakistan team and we've come up short will get all the guys thinking just exactly what they need to be thinking about and the way they need to play to win World Cup games.

"We've found ourselves in some tough situations today and we weren't good enough to get out of them. We have to learn from that, and we have to learn from that quickly, because if we play India in Ahmedabad, then you can guarantee the same situations are going to pop up again, and we'll have to handle them a whole lot better than we did today [Saturday]."

Brett Lee enjoys another wicket, Australia v Pakistan, Group A, World Cup 2011, Colombo, March 19, 2011
Brett Lee tried his best to pull Australia back, but he needs his team-mates to fire going forward © Getty Images

Ponting was one of only two men playing in the match who was also part of the last World Cup game Australia had lost. That was also a defeat at the hands of Pakistan, whose only remaining player from that 1999 line-up was Abdul Razzaq.

Shoaib Akhtar was also part of that side, but was overlooked for this game. As it turned out, Pakistan barely missed him. From the spin of Abdur Rehman, who opened the bowling, to the excellent swing bowling of Umar Gul, to the miserly offbreaks of Mohammad Hafeez, to the nagging seamers of Razzaq, Australia struggled against all of Pakistan's bowlers.

"We weren't able to rotate the strike anywhere near well enough off [Hafeez]," Ponting said. "He was the one who put the brakes on the most. When you've got a guy who's doing that at one end it does build up pressure, and generally when you build up pressure in one-day cricket is when teams can have batting collapses like we did today.

"You've got to give them credit for the way they bowled. We'll certainly learn from the experience today about what you have to do to play spin bowling well and how to rotate the strike a bit better."

Australia lost their last six wickets for 42 runs, and it left their bowlers with little to defend. Brett Lee did his best to drag Australia bag into the contest with two new-ball wickets and a pair in consecutive deliveries in his second spell, but he had little support.

That's one thing Australia will need to rectify before their quarter-final, which will be against India in Ahmedabad, unless West Indies upset India on Sunday. If that is the case, Australia would most likely head to Dhaka to take on West Indies.

Wherever they end up, they will be starting afresh after their first loss in 34 games. They'll settle for a three-match winning streak to end the tournament.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 49 
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Posted by indy on (March 22, 2011, 9:05 GMT)

Australia has to do well , it they want to win the WC

Posted by indy on (March 22, 2011, 7:40 GMT)

Australia will not win the world cup...I don't know why all you guys can't realize that. Aussies were clearly unbeatable 3 years back, but that time is over. India will win the QF, but they will not win the cup either.SL is my team to win the WC

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 21, 2011, 10:47 GMT)

I dont know what australian are thinking........Smith & Krejza !!!!!!! What are they doing in the playing XI.Whereas David hussey is sidelined completely!!!!!!!!!! They even dont look as unit as Aussie used to do in the field. Ponting is clueless what happening..... & in his batting also.... They surely gonna loose the quarter Final Against India. It will be a miracle in motera if they win it. Every team got kick on in this world cup except the Aussies.

Posted by Justin on (March 21, 2011, 9:46 GMT)

The last time Aus lost to Pak in a WC game they went on to have a 34 game winning streak.

Posted by Manish on (March 21, 2011, 8:37 GMT)

Now its time for a loosing streak for Aussies..... ONE ALARM for India: India should hv plans for Nanes as well... he will surely cm in against India at Ahmedabad...

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 21, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

i m a pakistani but my fav team is austrlia

Posted by Patrick on (March 21, 2011, 1:08 GMT)

Finally the streak is over and, while I'm sure it'll be greeted with great enthusiasm on the sub-continent, it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. The glory days are over, most Australians have known that for a while, now everyone else can take a deep breath and get on with it. I'm proud of the achievement of a couple of champion teams and don't expect it will just continue to happen as a matter of course.

Posted by adeel on (March 20, 2011, 23:45 GMT)

i've lost all respect for ian chapple. he was so jeolous when pak was dismissing aust batsman like minnows. he had a go at afrid for his celebration style (which he has been doing since 2009) and then at pak team for a 2 min huddle after bowling out aust. he repeated his rant 2 or 3 times on each occasion. did you do that when aust was standing on boundary in a HUDDLE for 2mins before going on the field?? what about a 36yrs old Lee jumping up and down like a girl when taking wickets. did you have a go at him too? you are pathetic mr chapple.

Posted by Ian on (March 20, 2011, 20:58 GMT)

'Australia and Australians do not boast of their successes' says Popcorn, boasting of their successes...

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 17:31 GMT)

if pak beat any team ppl say tht team was not playing good or it was going with its full strenght and if pak is lost by any team thn ppl say tht,tht team played well and pak played with their full strenght and was unsuccessfull!!!!!ppl should realize tht a win is a win and pak has proved tht they can win CWC 2011

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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