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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Australia [cliche deleted] v Pakistan T2 D4

Australia 127 & 381 (125.3 ov, M Hussey 134*, S Watson 97, Danish Kaneria 5/151) beat Pakistan 333 & 139 (38.0 ov, N Hauritz 5/53) by 36 runs: T2 D3 at Sydney.

I was wrong again. As were most other commentators. Australia's determination trumped Pakistan's intermittent flair and underlying lack of self-belief.

There were two distinct phases of the day's play. In the first Mike Hussey and Peter Siddle moved sensibly, taking advantage of some defensive field placings and another missed catch at the wicket, from 8/286, effectively 8/80, past 318, when Hussey brought up his century in 195b (14x4), then a further 20 wicketless overs to 8/373 ( Hussey 127*, Siddle 37*) at lunch.

Pakistan's fortunes revived after the interval as Siddle fell for a determined 38/117b (2x4) and Bollinger followed soon after leaving Hussey unbeaten on 134/284b (16x4).

The second phase was Pakistan's attempt to make 176 for victory. For a time it was edge of the seat stuff as the openers put on 34 before Doug Bollinger dismissed Imran Farhat. Salman Butt and Faisal Iqbal took the total to 51 before Mitchell Johnson had them both caught behind, Iqbal straightforwardly, Butt brilliantly by Brad Haddin whose keeping generally showed up the shortcomings of his opposite number.

Mohammad Yousuf and Umar Gul, Pakistan's best pair, came together and took the score to 3/77, including taking 12 off a Nathan Hauritz over, at tea. Anybody's game.

Ricky Ponting opted to continue with Hauritz after the interval. The captain's judgment, so much of which had been questioned throughout the match, was vinidcated when Yousuf belted a return catch to the bowler. Two balls later Misbah-ul-Haq fell.

At 5/77 it looked to be game over, though the brothers Akmal hung around for a while, Umar shepherding his older sibling through a 26 and Mohammad Sami through a 30 run partnership

The Australian bowlers persisted taking advantage of the brittle Pakistan lower order (the pitch was still playing well). Bollinger 2/32 from 12, Johnson 3/27 from 10, and Hauritz 5/53 from 12 overs (his second ever Test and first class 5 wickets in an innings haul in successive Tests) were too good.

Mike Hussey deservedly won the Player of the Match Award. He admitted that he was lucky to be missed three times behind the stumps but te fact remains that he rode his luck extremely well. He is definitely not yet finished as a Test batsman.

It's difficult to explain why Pakistan fell apart on D4 (and late on D3). For a perspective from their side see Osman Samiuddin on Cricinfo .


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