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September 4, 2012
Australia's captain Michael Clarke said there was a great feeling around the squad after their 2-1 series win against Pakistan, a victory all the more special because of the conditions in which the matches were played. In sapping heat and humidity, the Australians avoided their first series loss to Pakistan in a decade and Clarke was especially pleased with the way the workload was spread throughout his side.
In conditions suited to spin, the fast bowler Mitchell Starc was named Player of the Series for his nine wickets at 15.11; the allrounder Glenn Maxwell impressed on his first international tour, securing the final win in Sharjah with a brisk unbeaten half-century; and Clarke and George Bailey both made valuable contributions with the bat during the series.
David Hussey, opening the batting for the first time in his 64 ODIs, helped give Australia a solid start to their chase of 245 with his 43 at nearly a run a ball, but especially impressive was the form of his brother. At 37, Michael Hussey was the oldest man in the squad but showed no signs of slowing down in the heat, and his 65 in the third match - his second half-century of the series - set up Australia's three-wicket victory.
"As captain of this team and the Test team it's important for me to have a mix of youth and experience," Clarke told reporters in Sharjah after the win. "I think that showed today. You saw Maxwell, who is young and hasn't played too much cricket, not much fear and go out and play his natural game. But without the experience and knowledge of both the Hussey brothers but especially Michael, we don't win tonight and we don't win the series.
"I changed the batting order after we fielded. Matthew Wade was a little but tired from fielding but I always had it in my mind that it was going to be an opportunity for a right-left-handed opening combination. I've always had confidence in the way David Hussey plays spin bowling, he's a very good player of spin bowling, but he hadn't scored too many runs on this tour.
"I thought if he opened the batting it will leave him a couple of overs to see the new ball before spin plays a part. I guess that's why I took that risk opening with him. As he showed, he's a class player and got a good start. We knew the first ten overs were going to be crictical to set the game up. The ball was hard, only two fielders out. We knew the first ten overs we had to be positive. Then it was left to the individual to play their natural game."
The Australians managed to handle Saeed Ajmal's spin well enough to win the match, although he again proved Pakistan's most dangerous bowler with 3 for 37. Throughout the series, Pakistan did not have a fast man who had the impact of Starc, who had played only eight ODIs before the series began, and fought off a minor chest injury suffered during the second match to 4 for 51 in the third game.
"He's had a great series and deserves Man of the Series," Clarke said. "In these conditions there hasn't been much for the fast bowlers at all. As a batter you look forward to facing fast bowlers at any opportunity. He deserves a lot of credit. He's made the most of his opportunity. He's been fighting hard for a spot in this Australian one-day team for a while now and I think he's grabbed it with both hands."
Starc will be part of Australia's T20 squad for the three matches coming up over the next week, and there will be a slight changeover in personnel, with Shane Watson, Cameron White, Ben Hilfenhaus, Pat Cummins and the 41-year-old Brad Hogg joining the squad. Clarke, who does not play T20 internationals, will head home along with several other players, but he believes the group will be parting on a high.
"The feeling around the group is a great feeling at the moment, especially after losing 4-0 to England," he said. "The guys should be really proud of this series. It was a tough victory against a very good one-day team in Pakistan.
"We worked really hard before coming on this series. We were up in Darwin as a team and worked hard against spin bowling. We found conditions so different to what we tried to prepare for up in Darwin, especially in the heat. I've never played in heat like this, in humidity like this. The most pleasing thing is the whole series was won by the whole team, it wasn't one individual player."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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