Clarke, Watson blunt Pakistan in Australia series win
by AFP

Ground:Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:DE Bollinger, MJ Clarke, SR Watson
Event:Australia in United Arab Emirates 2008/09

DateLine: 2nd May 2009


Michael Clarke struck a sparkling hundred as Australia beat Pakistan by eight wickets in the fourth day-night international here on Friday to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the series.


The 28-year-old Australian captain hit an unbeaten 100 and was well supported by Watson (85 not out) as the pair added 197 for the third wicket to ease Australia past a modest 198-run target with 5.4 overs to spare.


Pakistan were bowled out for 197 in 48.4 overs with Australian left-arm paceman Doug Bollinger taking 5-35 in only his second international one-day match.


Pakistan won the first match by four wickets before Australia came back strongly to win the second by six wickets and the third by 27 runs. The fifth and final match will be played here on Sunday.


This is Australia's first one-day series win since they beat Bangladesh last September, having lost to South Africa -- home and away -- and drawn 2-2 with New Zealand before sealing this series win over Pakistan.


Pakistan paceman Shoaib Akhtar removed Brad Haddin (nought) and then debutant Marcus North with only three runs on the board, before Clarke and Watson came to Australia's rescue and put on a record stand against Pakistan.


Clarke, who hit 66 in the third match on Monday, hit Akhtar for his 14th boundary to complete his fourth one-day hundred with just one needed for victory. He faced 122 balls.


Australia's previous best third-wicket stand against Pakistan was 140 set by Kepler Wessels and Allan Border at Sydney in 1984.


Watson, 27, reached his eighth fifty with a six off spinner Shoaib Malik, and hit seven boundaries during his 140-ball knock.


Pakistan, who surprisingly rested their in-form paceman Umar Gul for this crucial match, failed to make any inroads as Akhtar also lost his steam in the second spell.


Clarke said the performance of Australia's bowling line up was crucial in the series-sealing win. "It was warm out there but our bowlers set the win for us," said Clarke, standing in for regular captain Ricky Ponting in this series. "Watson and I planned to stay at the wicket and runs came for us."


Pakistan captain Younus Khan was disappointed with his side's inability to set a commanding total after choosing to bat first.


"For a team like Australia we needed at least 240 or 250," said Younus. "When Akhtar got two early wickets, we thought we could win but Clarke and Watson batted superbly."


Earlier, it was left-arm paceman Bollinger with his maiden five-wicket haul in 7.4 overs who helped Australia prevent Pakistan from putting up the big total needed for a series-levelling win.


Only all-rounder Shahid Afridi with a run-a-ball 40, including four boundaries, and opener Ahmed Shahzad with a useful 43 struck with authority after Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat.


Bollinger, who went without a wicket in his debut at the second match in Dubai last week, provided an early breakthrough for his team when he dismissed opener Salman Butt (two) in the first over.


From the other end, Nathan Bracken (2-31) bowled out Pakistani skipper Khan (seven).


It could have been 12-3 had Pakistani umpire Aleem Dar not turned down a caught behind appeal against Misbah-ul-Haq off Bracken's next delivery. Haq survived to score 34 and added 68 for the third wicket with Shahzad.


Shahzad also added 36 for the fourth wicket with Shoaib Malik who made 27 before Bollinger returned for his second spell to remove Malik and Afridi.


Bollinger took two more wickets, Shoaib Akhtar (two) and Saeed Ajmal (nought) to end the innings with Yasir Arafat unbeaten on 23.


The two teams will also play a Twenty20 in Dubai on May 7.

(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)


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