Symonds anchors shaky Aussie innings
by AFP

Ground:Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:A Symonds, DR Martyn, Abdul Razzaq
Event:VB Series 2004/05

DateLine: 4th February 2005


One-day specialist Andrew Symonds anchored Australia's stuttering innings to help his team reach a modest total of 237 off 49.1 overs against Pakistan in the first tri-series final.


Symonds, voted Australia's one-day player of the year last week, made 91 off 101 balls as the hosts struggled to find their rhythm against a fired-up Pakistan at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.


Australian selectors opted to drop opener Matthew Hayden for the first match of the best-of-three final, apparently over-ruling the wishes of captain Ricky Ponting.


But his replacement, Michael Clarke, suddenly lost the form which has seen him fill in brilliantly for Hayden for much of the series.


Clarke was on nine and Australia on 29 when he became Pakistan's first victim, trapped lbw by Rana Naved-ul-Hasan in the ninth over.


The 23-year-old had already survived a dropped catch by allrounder Abdul Razzaq, followed by a very confident lbw appeal.


Razzaq then sparked the first of Australia's mini-collapses when he plucked a stunning one-handed catch from over his head to dismiss opener Adam Gilchrist for 24 off the bowling of Mohammad Khalil.


At that stage Australia were 51 for 2 and it was Ponting who fell just two runs later when he was bowled by Rao Iftikhar Anjum for 11.


It was then that Symonds joined forces with Damien Martyn for a 137-run partnership that carried the team to the apparent safety of 190 for 3 at the start of the 41st over.


Tellingly, Martyn, normally a confident stroke-maker, took 78 balls and didn't hit a single boundary to bring up his score of 53 when he was stumped by Kamran Akmal off Shahid Afridi while trying to hit over cover point.


Australia then lost a further three wickets for 23 runs in a spell which saw both Afridi and Abdul Razzaq on hat-tricks.


Afridi's opportunity came when veteran Darren Lehmann, the next man in after Martyn, was caught behind for a golden duck while inexplicably trying a reverse sweep on the first ball from Afridi.


New batsman Simon Katich then gave Razzaq the first of his three wickets when he was caught at cover by fielding substitute Yasir Hameed for nine.


Razzaq's then claimed the prized wicket of Symonds to bring up an unsuccessful hat-trick opportunity, with the Australians suddenly on the ropes at 213 for 7 in the 45th over.


Although Australia batted all the way to number eight with allrounder Shane Watson, Pakistan wrapped up the tail cheaply and put the pressure back on the world champions.


Heavy rain had preceded the match with more forecast, although there were no interruptions to play during the Australian innings.


For Pakistan Razzaq again showed the best form, taking 3-33.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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