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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Australia North Pakistan south in T#1

Australia 253 and 334 beat Pakistan 148 and 289 (91.1 ov, Salman Butt 92, M North 6-55, S Smith 3-51) by 150 runs: T#1/2 D4 at Lord's Australia lead series 1-0.

A glance at the scorecard suggests a comfortable win for Australia, the Cricinfo Bulletin
described it as "massive", but I thought it was closer than either of those assessments.

Pakistan, led by Salman Butt's doughty 92/173b (15x4) and supported by solid performances from the top seven, with the exception of the captain whose crossbat swipe saw him well caught on the boundary for 2/4b, fought hard. Australia's front line bowlers didn't sweep all before them. After Ben Hilfenhaus removed Azhar Ali (whose ability I'd privately questioned) for a gutsy 42/87b (4x4) Tim Paine's stumping of Butt off Marcus North's first ball of the innings tipped the psychological balance in Australia's favour though Pakistan - or most of the team - didn't throw in the towel.

North, whose bowling role in the team has fluctuated between Hobson's choice spinner and occasional part-timer, became the unlikely destroyer with 6/55 from 18.1 overs (1m). His name will be added, along with Shane Watson's, to the Lord's honour board. That Shane Warne hasn't qualified shows the limitations (absurdity?) of judging players by performances at one ground. (North is now the third occasional/ part-time bowler in this team to take 6 wickets in a Test innings.)

Steve Smith, who'd taken the only wicket on D3, bowled a tidy spell. He doesn't spin the ball as much as Warnie but should keep improving. His 3/51 will probably have more long term benefits for Australian Test cricket though it was North who provided the generous margin of victory and perhaps (though this is drawing a long bow) even the victory itself.

A word about Ricky Ponting. Another poor match with the bat at Lord's (see comment above) but a good - very good - decision to opt to bowl North ahead of Smith.


Cricinfo Bulletin

Fox Sports report with link to video highlights.
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