Saturday, March 19, 2011

WorldCup Match Reviews (Part 4)


The sparkling unbeaten streak of the Aussies at WorldCup was finally brought to an end by the team that last beat them at this grand stage, Pakistan. A superb all round display by the Greenshirts, barring a few blemishes, saw them down Australia in a colorful and nerve wrecking affair at the R Premadasa in Colombo. It was the first loss of Australia in 34 WorldCup games since they went down to the same opposition at Headingley, in the previous millennium. This victory means a lot to a capricious Pakistan side that has oscillating between both extremes in this WorldCup, being stupendously good on a day and miserable on another. This win will provide just the thrust and the momentum required by this Pakistan side going into the knockout stages, this victory will give them the believe that they have got what it takes to lift the glimmering, golden Cup...

Australia: 176/10 (46.4 overs) ---  Brad Haddin 42, Michael Clarke 34 --- Umar Gul 3-30
Pakistan: 178/6 (41 overs) --- Asad Shafiq 46, Umar Akmal 44* --- Brett Lee 4-28

Match Rating: **********

Shot of the Match: Umar Akmal lifting a Johnson ball over mid-on for a one bounce four. Umar Akmal was trying breaking the shackles down at Colombo and this stroke was just another step towards it. Johnson was finding his lost rhythm and constantly bowling a nagging off-stump line from around the wicket. Umar Akmal played and missed a few but then came the flamboyance, he shuffled outside off stump, took a step towards the ball and smacked it over the mid-on fielder almost for a six as if it was a leg-stump half volley. Johnson was left dumbfounded.

Delivery of the Match: Australia had found a little opening as Brett Lee had removed YK, effectively ending the 53 run stand for the third wicket that threatened to make a meal of the chase. But still a load of work had to be done as Pakistan's middle order rock, Misbah-ul-Haq, made his way out and took guard. Lee steamed in with new vigor and bowled a perfect delivery to the veteran. It landed on good length outside off-stump, reared up and kissed the Misbah's bat through to the wicket-keeper. Lee was pumped up and followed through with his signature hill-jump. The contest had suddenly becoming alive.

Catch of the Match: After all of what we have seen from Kamran Akmal, the granite-hand wicketkeeper, it was refreshingly good to see him pouch a difficult take to dismiss Ponting. Hafeez had bowled a regulation off-spinner close to Ponting, but with the dismal run of form he is in, he went on to cut it. Mistake! A sharp deviation flew off his bat's top edge and Kamran did well to cling on to it, thanks to the webbing.

Runout of the Match: The only runout in the game was the disastrous mixup between Clarke and White just as they looked to steady the ship. Clarke clipped a bowl off his pads straight to Misbah-ul-Haq at backward square-leg and called for a single that wasn't there. White responded to the call but it proved to be a mistake as Misbah threw a perfect through to Kamran behind the stump who disturbed the woodwork with White well short of the popping crease.

Innings of the Match: Umar Akmal, Brad Haddin, Younis Khan and Micheal Clarke all played short innings that proved very valuable in the end but Asad Shafiq's calm 46 from 81 balls steals the accolades here. His perfectly paced innings is the quintessence of how one should bat when you have the deliveries on your side. A dose of his Buddha-like patience at the crease was the ultimate prescription to soothe the frayed nerves in the Pakistani dressing room. In short his innings was the anchor of Pakistan's run-chase that effectively helped the brittle Pakistani batting order evade another implosion.
Bowling Spell of the Match: The three-pronged Aussie pace attack which many consider to be the best in the tournament was at its agonizing worst, save for one man, Brett Lee. His fiery, gallant effort of 4-28 from 8 testing overs all but took the match away from Pakistan. The only thing he required was a back-up effort from his fellow pacemen, which they failed to provide, otherwise it would have been a match-winning spell of ruthless, Aussie-minded fast bowling.

Partnership of the Match: The 5th wicket stand between Umar Akmal and Asad Shafiq can be labelled as a match-winning partnership for this particular encounter. The Aussies had their tails up after removing Misbah and Younis from consecutive deliveries and were looking to push the initiative even further. In this scenario Umar Akmal sent them back to their initial position with scintillating, disdainful hitting, meanwhile finding good support in Shafiq who looked to give the strike back to the aggressive Akmal every chance he got.

Disappointment of the Match: The biased commentary by the grumpy Ian Chappel. Here are some excerpts. 
Whining after Afridi castled Steve Smith "I don't like Afridi's celebration for a couple of reasons. First, he hasn't done much to get the wicket, the batsman has helped me. Second, I don't think it is good with his team-mates, he just stands there in the middle of the pitch with his arms raised."
Showing how much of a sore loser he is as the Pakistani team formed huddle after bowling out Australia for 176 "They should walk off and think about getting the target rather than congratulating themselves on a job half done. This is useless stuff."
Another reason to doubt his mental health and objective commentary as he could not stand the belligerent Umar Akmal tearing the Aussie bowling attack apart "I think the school in which Umar Akmal studied removed the page from the dictionary that had the word careful in it."
Now how many of you see this Aussie idiot fit for international events? 

Though after the Match: How could Afridi be such a shrewd tactician? 

The Match in Photos:

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