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

Posted by Shahriar on (March 20, 2011, 16:36 GMT)

LOL, win will not hurt,It's india who is comping up guyz :)

Posted by krishnaKarthik on (March 20, 2011, 16:30 GMT)

It is good and all that Australia's 34-match winning streak has been broken, but Pakistan, as the team that is being carried on the shoulders by the press corps as the least team to achieve this, will do well to remember what transpired a few days following that win: a ferocious innings from Gilchrist and a walloping to erase the memory of a win, in the finals.

Posted by ozair on (March 20, 2011, 15:40 GMT)

hello everyone, i dont seem to understand why most of the teams and people watching the game consider australia as the best team in the world. its only the pressure they create which makes the other teams fall. i was reading alll the posts and no one ever mentioned anything about the pakistani team the way they played ...welll u guys will see...it will be pakistan to lift the glory this time....

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 14:07 GMT)

I dont think u were a big fan of the sport known as Squah or u would have known the greatest of all time streak in ALL Sports is the 555 match winning streak of Jehangir Khan!! Mohammad Ali though was a great boxer but he wasnt anything close a perfection as Jehangir Khan was!! My 2 cents, hope this one gets posted lol

Posted by John on (March 20, 2011, 13:36 GMT)

The headline is absolutely correct. The loss won't hurt. The damage had already been done before the Australians even started their campaign. Things 'continue to decay. Ricky has been acting like a pratt. Now, Hilditch has arrived so we are in for some more amazing selection changes I'm sure.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 13:16 GMT)

well majr i accept the fact aus win by the likes of hayden ponting gilly but y shane warne ofcoz warne is a huge asset for aussie but he hasnt played in 2003 or 2007 or 2011 world cup .....so under pontings captaincy its like warne hasnt played too many odis but test matches ofcoz a lot.....

Posted by Ashraf on (March 20, 2011, 10:05 GMT)

I am a Pakistan supporter and celebrate our team's victory. But watch out below everybody because there's going to be hell to pay. The Aussies are going to be on a rampage after this and in my estimation are the favorites to win this competition.

Posted by Basil on (March 20, 2011, 9:03 GMT)

This loss should sharpen them up. Shame Ferguson and Hastings weren't given a game before knockout stage begins. Looks like we're stuck with the out of form Ponting and White and also the wayward Tait who if he's not bowling at 155+ is no better than a village bowler. And please, nobody ever refer to Johnson as an allrounder ever again.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 7:47 GMT)

As far as I am a pakis supporter I have respect for australia cricket team, If australia want to beat India in quarter final then they have to include specialist batsmen and that is David Hussey. Pointing knows better but I think they should drop either kreja or smith. For me they both are part time spinners and aussies dint found any top class spinner after warne.

Important thing white needs to get his form back asap.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 7:16 GMT)

when it comes to winning streaks, look no further than Squash Legend "Jehangir Khan", he was defeatless for about 5 and a half years!

Posted by aaditya on (March 20, 2011, 7:10 GMT)

the great aussie run started after that defeat against pak in leeds in 99..now hopefully it ends with this defeat!!in 99,they lost consecutive games,to nz and pak..this time its pak,the next game will be a QF probably vs ind..cant wait for the game!!

Posted by Marcio on (March 20, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

Watching part of the game from the pub I was amazed at how jovial the Australian team was as they were losing. Lots of smiles and relaxed postures (not Ponting of course!). It's almost as if they didn't mind losing at all. Of course the media will always cherry pick small moments in the game where there are heated exchanges, but the game was anything but a hostile encounter, regardless of those couple of incidents. Australia will lose their quarter final, but it is good to see the majority of the team enjoying their cricket. Brett Lee is a great influence in that regard. Having said that, it is time for Ponting to resign the captaincy. I said that his behaviour and generosity of spirit were exemplary during the Indian tour, and I meant it. I suspect he probably is just sick and tired of all the bashing from the sub-continent, and who can blame him? But now he seems to be unable to deal with the pressures of the job, and his tantrums are not acceptable. Give Clarke the job.

Posted by John on (March 20, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

The structure of this tournament really is pretty stupid. THREE knockout rounds is just silly. Basically what it means is that teams like England and NZ can easily qualify for the S/F and indeed the final if they have a good day or two. England after fluking it through to the QFs are real dark horses now. Beware any side who plays them in the QF (most likely SL). What's really stupid is that India/Aus are arguably two of the stronger sides in the WC, but with the structuring of the tournament, one of them will not even make the semi finals. As for the match, it's probably better to have a shocker BEFORE the knockout stage rather than during it. Hope to see a 110% performance from our boys vs India. If we play well, Aus CAN win the WC.

Posted by javed on (March 20, 2011, 6:29 GMT)

Australians claim that they are great sportsmen, what Ponting was doing at the crease after edging the ball. He himself should have walked out to show the sportsmanship.This shows what they claim is not true.

Posted by P Subramani on (March 20, 2011, 6:28 GMT)

For most of Australia's unbeaten run they have had the likes of Gilchrist, Hayden Magrath and Warne who were all weather greats. Today Australia looks a pale shadow of the team of the early part of the last decade. While they have a very fast bowling attack which might do well on bouncy wickets I am not too sure that they can do much on these wickets. Their batting is too jaded for comfort who again could be world beaters in Australia and maybe South Africa. In my opinion South Africa is the real package. They have everything going in their favour. I think they will win the World Cup as a token of gratitude to their skipper Graeme Smith who will stop leading South Africa in ODIS after this World Cup. West Indies looks like they are regrouping and that will make cricket interesting again.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 6:07 GMT)

Aus need to get their team right. They have some loose ends. Smith and White should be kicked out straight away. Bring back David Hussey - he can easily replace both these guys. Get another guy on bench - like Ferguson or Hastings. Think of replacing Kreja with Nannes on non-spinny pitches.

Posted by Lalith on (March 20, 2011, 5:27 GMT)

Loss would not hurt at this time but loss at QF to India will hurt a lot. Aussies escaped SL match due to rain but not against the Unpredictable.

Posted by nalin on (March 20, 2011, 5:25 GMT)

Australia showed its achiles heal against slow bowlers and could not win at Premadasa stadium even after winning the toss. If india wins against WI the Australia has to beat India in QF and PAK in SF and either SA or SL in finals and I suspect the Achiles heal will be repeatedly traumatised.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 5:14 GMT)

Pakistan look the most well prepared team for this WC. They might quit the WC in the most well known (only to them)..to collapse. I am sure they can make it to the Semi Finals too. Australia are no more the Power House they used to be and with Ponting limping to score runs, I dont see Australia going beyond the quarters. They look too sedate and have not shown the urge to win this WC. We want a new winner this time and I surely hope the best teams fight it out from here on.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 5:07 GMT)

Brydon Coverdale i like ur optimism but bro.....the three match winning strak to end the tournament is not gonna happen this time around :)

Posted by Sathiya on (March 20, 2011, 4:42 GMT)

They are in verge of World cup exit..may be against India..

Posted by John on (March 20, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

How many times does Ponting have to say that Australia will learn from their defeats before the Australian selectors realize that Ponting NEVER learns from defeats? He's still doing the same things wrong that he has always done. When he had a team of great players he could get away with it (most of the time- not in the 2005 Ashes), but with a mediocre team like the present Aussie line-up the mistakes mean defeats. He'll do the same things wrong against India as he did against Pakistan and the result will be the same. Australia has to appoint a new captain and start rebuilding. The longer Ponting stays around, the worse Australia will get.

Posted by Jawwad on (March 20, 2011, 4:03 GMT)

Wow, the defending champions have been bundled up a petty 176 by a third rank team and still you can write an article like this. Way to go brendon !!!

Posted by Rajaram on (March 20, 2011, 3:56 GMT)

This is an excellent article. Australia have been the benchmark for every other team,held in awe- human, yet invincible for 34 world Cup matches. Not a single other team can come close. Teams like India, and Indian fans, in particular,who are forever taking potshots at Australia and Australians,would do well to learn that Australia and Australians do not boast of their successes.

Posted by David on (March 20, 2011, 3:47 GMT)

Marsh, Wade+, Hodge, Cowan*, Bailey, Christian, Hopes, O'Keefe, S. Clark, Pattinson, Doherty vs the current australian team, take your pick. a team entirely based on players out of the 15 man squad & you'd have a very close game from picking players who are in form & not picking players on what they have done in the past. ie Tait, Ponting, White, Lee, Clarke (90 against Kenya doesn't count as form sorry), & players aren't picked for their jovial nature, sorry smith. & instead of picking with a huge bias towards NSW, the bias is to the teams who have been winning the Ryobi cup this year. winning form. & 2 compitent spinners are picked for subcontinental conditions & the other bowlers aren't just out & out pace with little direction.

Posted by Andrew on (March 20, 2011, 3:44 GMT)

As much as I think Krezja is improving, I honestly think we gain more dropping him for D Hussey, I am now starting to think Hastings for Tait!

Posted by Gudu on (March 20, 2011, 3:24 GMT)

Australian era is finished. They can not win the cup with this team. Their batsmen are struggling agains spin & quality quicks. Apart from B Lee they don't have a good bowler. I think Darrek Nannes should have played instead of STait

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 1:48 GMT)

Wonderful performance by Pakistani team to finish off the winning streak for Australia which is expected to be bounce back and get even more aggressive in forhcoming games. Shahid Afridi should perform better in batting. Misbah also lost lost consistency yet Umar and Asad batted well. Umar Gul is getting better. Best of luck to Paki team..

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 1:37 GMT)

I am starting to like the respect that Ponting shows to pakistan. hold him in higher regard now.

Posted by Khalid on (March 20, 2011, 1:11 GMT)

Haha, the Windies and India should be fighting to lose, so that they don't have to face Brett Lee and the rest of the Aussie juggernaut!

Posted by Nadeem on (March 20, 2011, 0:32 GMT)

As a pakistani i am happy that we beat australia but i am more worried that australia is out of streak pressure and now they can play freely. I think it would have been better if streak goes on and they lose like today in QF or SF but in group game, will wake the lion up and australian well come back very hard on all teams now. But win is win and all credit goes to pakistanis for great effort to beat team like australians. Hope to see more wins in WC, its long tough way to go from here on.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 0:19 GMT)

India gets 2nd or 3rd position, either way they will play in Ahmedabad? It doesnt make sense. Its unfair.. Its against the sportsman spirit. Is it really true guys answer please? Actually what people think is an easier way prooves to be a tougher way. I think Wikipedia is right and cricinfo is wrong. The game on 24th is in Ahmedabad bw 3rd and 2nd teams of A and B respectively.That means if West Inides is number 2 they will play vs Australia on Ahmedabad's famous dusty spin wicket.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 20, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

The Great Jahangir Khan of Squash ( from Pakistan) won 555 games in a row a treak whhich lasted more than 5 years.

Posted by Kell on (March 19, 2011, 23:26 GMT)

Give it up Ricky. Make sum runs or retire!!!!!

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 19, 2011, 23:07 GMT)

India will destroy Australia bruatally, thetermination is near.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 19, 2011, 23:04 GMT)

Australia does not look likely to advance to the semis the first time when they were tested by BPakistan who is to say the least a T20 team they lost, it just show that all 4 teams had it to easy to qualify the only team that is really up with best is Sri lanka, but Australia have no decent spinners, Tate is all over place, Johnson is waking up in a nightmare and Watson bowls darts can net help Australia at all, they will be terminated in the quater finals very easily.This is not a waik up call, this was due , Australia is not the same team who won the worldcup 203 and 2007. The time for Australia cricket is done and dusted and there is no Don Bradman to carry them anymore, sad but domination hurts too.l

Posted by Amahl on (March 19, 2011, 22:42 GMT)

Lee bowled really well but I feel that Ponting's ordinary captaincy has not been giving Krejza more confidence and the opportunities he needs. He is a wicket taker but for some reason, Ponting never uses any catchers when he bowls, it defeats the purpose of having Jason Krejza. If you won't use him to attack, they might as well not pick him. Yesterday, it took Ponting quite a while to get catching men in, particularly a forward short leg which to me was just plain common sense with the way Krejza was bowling. Moving forward, I would identify Tait as someone who needs to fire. We didn't see a single yorker yesterday and when that comes out right, its unplayable. Johnson also seems a bit confused about what he has to do. I feel he needs to be going around the wicket angling the ball into the right handers. At present, we are seeing a few good balls, but a majority of harmless away drifting deliveries and too many down leg.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 19, 2011, 22:35 GMT)

YA keep it up Pakistan & not to take the next matches easy every match is in the situation of do & die......... our wishes are wid u Jeet k jeo

Posted by ahmad on (March 19, 2011, 21:25 GMT)

from the very first match i believed australia had monotonous pace attack..u got to bowl clark,hussey and bring david hussey in place of smith..ponting missed the trick today by not bowling smith, even after seeing his own innings was stuck due to spin..after lee's second spell the best option could have been smith rather than tait...neway if aussies wanna make it to finals they need to vary there bowling attack..these days good teams are used to of this much of pace..anyways nothing can be taken away from Pakistan they realy bowled well and were the better out of the two teams on the day...

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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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