Australia 1 for 167 (Clarke 103*) beat Pakistan 163 (Inzamam 50, Afridi 48) by 9 wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Pakistan's troubled times in Australia continued as they put in a mediocre performance against some high-quality Australian bowling on a lively pitch at the Sydney Cricket Ground, and slumped to a nine-wicket loss. After rain had delayed the start and freshened up the pitch, Ricky Ponting put Pakistan in, and other than Inzamam-ul-Haq, who fought hard for 50, and Shahid Afridi, who blasted 48 after the game was all but lost, none of the batsmen stuck around long enough to make a difference. Australia waltzed to 164, with 13 overs to spare.
Michael Clarke scored his second one-day international century, expressing himself with unrestrained freedom, perhaps helped by the fact that the target was such a small one. Even with two breaks - one for dinner and one for rain - he managed to keep going at a good clip. Bizarrely, on 85, Clarke drove Azhar Mahmood straight to Shoaib Malik at cover, and though the catch appeared to have been taken cleanly, the fielder seemed unsure of its legitimacy and Clarke was granted a repreive. In the end it mattered little. Ponting denied himself runs, and carefully shepherded Clarke to three figures. Clarke, on 97, almost failed to reach the mark when he lofted Salman Butt to Mohammed Hafeez at long-on only to see the regulation chance grassed. Eventually, with one run left to win Clarke reached three figures, and the game was won.
The big damage though, was done earlier in the match. Glenn McGrath is a bowler you don't want to face on the flattest of pitches. On one that had just received a bit of sprinkling, it made him lethal. He hit a perfect length early on, keeping the ball just far enough away from the batsmen to cut out the drive. Then, when the odd ball jagged off the seam, either in to the right-handed batsman or away, there was trouble, as Butt quickly found out. Butt, who has been in a rich vein of form on this tour of Australia, was trapped plumb in front for a duck, and Australia had Pakistan in very early trouble at 1 for 2. McGrath had fired his first salvo - and Pakistan's batsmen were reminded that handling him with anything but utmost care was foolhardy.
Then Brett Lee - in his own fiery manner - joined the party. Kamran Akmal, faced with a pacy delivery, played for the away swing and was left looking foolish when the ball straightened off the seam and knocked back the off stump (2 for 2). McGrath soon had his second wicket, when Shoaib Malik played a peach of an inswinger, with bat well away from the pad, and the ball clattered into the stumps (3 for 38).
McGrath licked his lips at the sight of the ball jagging about but reined in his enthusiasm to send down his full complement of overs in one ultra-economical spell. Even misers may toss the occasional penny away, but McGrath winces when a run is taken off him, and walked to the outfield shaking his head after racking up outstanding figures of 10-3-18-2.
While McGrath was buttonholing the opposition, his colleagues sneaked breakthroughs at regular intervals. Michael Kasprowicz had Yousuf Youhana well caught by Ponting at slip (4 for 44) and Shane Watson accounted for Hafeez in similar fashion, with Matthew Hayden being the slip fielder on the occasion (5 for 68).
Inzamam-ul-Haq meanwhile had dug deep and weathered the worst of the storm. He had left McGrath well alone, and even seen off Lee with a 15-run over that included an ambitious pulled six over fine-leg. For a brief period Abdul Razzaq was the able aide, driving cautiously and blocking well. Then, after 30 runs were added for the sixth wicket, Razzaq pushed a ball to Clarke in the covers and sauntered a single, but was found short of his crease when the throw nailed the stumps (6 for 98).
Inzamam, shortly after reaching 50, committed his first blunder of the day, and it cost him his wicket. He played an almighty heave off Darren Lehmann's loopy left-arm spin, and picked out Clarke in the deep (7 for 103). As soon as he realised what he had done Inzamam fell to his haunches, cursing himself and his luck.
That might well have ended the match as a contest, had Afridi not been at his destructive best. He began with two gorgeous straight-hit sixes - one off Lehmann and another off Lee - then pulled a slower ball, struck an inside-out four over mid-off and put the icing on the cake with a towering hit dancing down the pitch off Lehmann that cleared the sightscreen with ease. But he was fast running out of partners and one manic charge down the pitch too many cost him his wicket. Afridi had made 48 when he jumped down the pitch to Lehmann, who had floated the ball in wide for this very move, and was smartly stumped by Brad Haddin. Pakistan had managed 163, but it was never going to be enough.
Anand Vasu is assistant editor of Cricinfo.