Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Australia pip Pakistan in thriller

Australia won a match they seemed to have lost. And Pakistan lost a game which they should have won. That just about sums up the Carlton and United Series game between the two countries which ended in a 15-run victory for Australia at Melbourne on Sunday.

With Ijaz Ahmed and Moin Khan in full control, Pakistan seemed headed for victory when there was a rain stoppage. On resumption, Pakistan lost their cool and composure even as the Australians kept theirs.

At 201 for four after 40 overs, Pakistan needed only 60 runs from ten overs. But Ijaz Ahmed was out in the 41st over and Moin Khan followed in the next over. Still with the big hitting in form Abdul Razzaq at the crease, Pakistan were not without hope. But his run out through a brilliant direct throw by Ricky Ponting saw Australia back in the driver's seat and ultimately they bowled out Pakistan for 245 in 48.5 overs.

In pursuit of a challenging target of 261, Pakistan lost Saeed Anwar early but a second wicket stand of 61 runs off 10.4 overs between Shahid Afridi and Ijaz Ahmed steadied the innings. But when Inzamam and Youhana failed to make substantial contributions, Pakistan at 140 for four in the 30th over were in some trouble. However Ijaz and Moin added 61 runs off 11 overs to put Pakistan in the favourities' circle. But the fall of Ijaz was a vital blow from which Pakistan never really recovered. The experienced right hander was bowled by Shane Lee for 85 off 104 balls. He hit six fours and a six. Moin Khan made a typical 33 off 36 balls with a six and a four. But in the end result, credit must be given to the Australian bowlers who did just what was required in the crunch overs. Shane Lee was outstanding as his figures of four for 37 off 8.5 overs will testify.

Earlier, Australia with solid contributions from most of their top order batsmen were able to post a challenging total of 260 for nine in 50 overs. After the fall of Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist for 56 runs by the 12th over, Ponting and Michael Bevan put Australia on the road to a good total by adding 66 runs for the third wicket off 12.5 overs. After Ponting fell for 53 off 64 balls, inclusive of five fours, Bevan and Andrew Symonds maintained the momentum with a fourth wicket partnership of 66 runs off 11.4 overs. The hard hitting Symonds' 35 off 36 balls with two sixes and a four was just what the Australians needed at this stage. Bevan played the sheet anchor role to perfection before he fell in the 46th over for 83. The left hander faced 101 balls and hit only one four besides a six. Saqlain Mushtaq picked up two late wickets to restrict the Australians when they seemed to be racing for a bigger total. Ultimately the total proved to be just beyond the reach of the Pakistanis.

The win took Australia's tally to ten points from six games. Pakistan are stuck on six from the same number of matches.