Australia A v Pakistan A, Top End Series, Cairns July 25, 2006

Johnson sparks Pakistan A collapse to seal tie

Cricinfo staff

Pakistan A 9 for 233 (Hafeez 96, Johnson 3-46) tied with Australia A 8 for 233 (Marsh 82, Cosgrove 81, Mohammad Khalil 3-22)

Australia A finished their Top End Series campaign with a dramatic tie as Pakistan A lost five wickets in the final three overs at Cazaly's Stadium. Chasing Australia A's 8 for 233, the visitors seemed in control as Mohammad Hafeez posted 96, but they stumbled after he departed and needed nine off Mitchell Johnson's last over.

A pair of twos from the opening two balls was followed by the dismissal of Fawad Alam (17), and when Mohammad Salman hit a boundary Pakistan A wanted only a single. Johnson forced Salman to pop a catch to Brett Dorey at short midwicket and finished the match with the run-out of Mohammad Irshad.

Australia A suffered from some unusually sloppy catching - Hafeez was given two chances and another two offerings were spilled - but they were able to retain their composure as the pressure mounted. Johnson collected 3 for 46 as well as the defining run-out while James Hopes picked up the first two wickets as Pakistan A began strongly.

The openers Hafeez and Rafatulla Mohmand reached 73 before Mohmand (29) was bowled and Misbah-ul-Haq followed 13 runs later failing to clear the infield. Hafeez, who struck only two fours and a six but still managed a strike-rate of more than 80, worked the ball well and with Hasan Raza as company the total was in range. However, Hafeez directed Dan Cullen to backward point and Raza (39) departed in the 48th over attempting a boundary off Johnson to start the five-wicket spiral.

Brad Haddin won the toss and batted, listing himself and Shane Watson as openers, but both batsmen managed only single figures before falling to the left-arm pace of Mohammad Khalil. The home side was in further trouble at 3 for 36 when Travis Birt disappeared, but Mark Cosgrove and Shaun Marsh eased the situation with a vital stand of 145.

Both left-handers captured important half-centuries, with Cosgrove falling for 81 from 122 balls while Marsh left to a miscued sweep three overs later for an 87-delivery 82. Phil Jaques, the outstanding batsman of the tournament following last week's 240 and 117 against India A, was unbeaten on 28 after Australia A lost Johnson and Dorey in the last-over scramble. Khalil was Pakistan's most impressive bowler with 3 for 22 from eight overs while Abdur Rehman took two wickets but gave away 64 runs.

The loss ended a disappointing series for the hosts, who were defeated in two other one-games, drew both first-class fixtures and experienced their only success in a Twenty20 win over New Zealand A. However, the batsmen provided some fine displays with Haddin, Jaques, Watson and Brad Hodge adding eye-catching centuries. Pakistan A play their final match against New Zealand A in Cairns on Thursday.