Clarke stars as Lehmann closes

Australia 6 for 253 (Clarke 97, Lehmann 49*) beat Pakistan 6 for 272 (Inzamam 68, Butt 61, Afridi 56*) by 4 wickets (D-L method)

Michael Clarke gave Australia an opening-batting headache with a brilliant 97 as they survived a brutal Shahid Afridi attack and a mid-innings stumble against Pakistan at the Bellerive Oval. Chasing a target reduced to 253 in 45 overs after a 40-minute rain break, Australia nervously slipped to 5 for 186, but eventually won by four wickets, thankful for the cool bald head of Darren Lehmann and the calm of Brad Haddin.

Hobart was hit by chilly conditions, and strong winds which knocked off the bails, but nobody blew harder than Afridi as he clattered four sixes and four fours in a devastating late spree of 56 from 26 balls. Australia were ruffled, but Clarke helped them relax at the same time as causing a jam at the top of the order for Australia's next match on Friday.

Matthew Hayden was resting and Adam Gilchrist battling a slightly sore knee, but Clarke made sure they were barely missed with a half-century to add to his 66 against West Indies last Friday. His brilliant innings included severe punishment for Shoaib Akhtar, who was taken for 14 in a one-over mid-innings spell, and Rana Naved-ul-Hasan after he dropped a disappointing effort when Clarke was 7. As misty rain fell in patches, Clarke was quick to slide forward, back or sideways, and lofted the ball fearlessly.

Clarke and Simon Katich gave Australia a superb start, the brand-new combination piling on 107 at more than six an over in reply to Pakistan's 272. While Clarke was always searching - usually successfully - for the big shot, Katich was happy to creep along in support in a complementary partnership. Clarke reached his half-century from 53 balls, but lost his partner eight runs later when Katich played on to Azhar Mahmood, then Ricky Ponting was caught behind off Afridi as rain forced an interval (2 for 118).

Damien Martyn went quickly to Abdul Razzaq in a similar manner to Katich when they came back from the rain break, and Australia started to frown when Clarke, on the verge of a century, mis-hit Mohammad Hafeez to Naved-ul-Hasan, and Andrew Symonds also inside-edged onto his stumps (5 for 186).

But Lehmann eased Australia to victory with an unbeaten 49 and Haddin as his sidekick. Playing only his eighth one-day international as a replacement for Gilchrist, Haddin walked out for his fifth match against the touring sides in nine days, and departed with a run-a-ball 30. In what will probably be a one-off appearance, Haddin at least made a valued contribution to a win that required some heavy work after Pakistan's hot-and-cold batting.

The Afridi explosion began in the 44th over, included a six over point off Brett Lee, and lifted a gear against Glenn McGrath, who was pounded for sixes over cover and midwicket - and three fours in the 49th over. Afridi, who added 47 with Razzaq in 4.4 overs, then brought up his half-century in the final over, by hammering Lee over the boundary. Pakistan had scored an amazing 97 in their last ten overs.

The onslaught turned a solid performance into an exciting one after Inzamam and Salman Butt provided warmth for Afridi's fire. After winning the toss, Inzamam puffed his way to 68 to prove his recovery from the back injury that ruled him out of the last two Tests, and Butt carried his tour form into the one-day arena with his second limited-overs half-century.

A minute's silence on Australia's day of mourning for the tsunami victims interrupted the innings, and after the break Inzamam and Youhana set about rebuilding Pakistan's tour. The squad's most experienced batsmen surprisingly lined up at Nos. 5 and 6, and as they collected 74 runs questions were raised about why they weren't batting higher. Both were cleverly removed by Michael Kasprowicz (6 for 204).

Butt provided a stable platform on a morning for long-sleeved shirts and jumpers,with some smooth shots square of the wicket. But once again Brad Hogg, who took five wickets and career-best figures on Friday, made a crucial breakthrough when Butt top-edged a cut and Lehmann took a smart catch (4 for 117).

The gamble to make an opener of Kamran Akmal, the wicketkeeper, failed when he edged McGrath to Clarke, who took a sharp two-handed catch to his right (1 for 15). Lee's early pace was again frightening, which Mohammad Hafeez discovered when he tried an unsuccessful hook. Hafeez was beaten by the pace as the ball clipped his glove before cannoning into the golden star of his helmet and rebounding to Hogg behind square leg (2 for 30).

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo.