Aussies draw first blood in Tri-series finals
by AFP

Ground:Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:Abdul Razzaq, Shoaib Malik, A Symonds, RT Ponting, MJ Clarke
Event:VB Series 2004/05

DateLine: 4th February 2005


Australia drew first blood in the opening Tri-series final with Pakistan after they recovered from a shaky start to win by 18 runs.


The Australians, despite their modest total of 237 from 49.1 overs, were not made to pay the penalty as Pakistan could make only 219 for 9 in reply at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Friday.


The visitors crashed to nine for 3 then 27 for 4 before showing any resistance to the pace attack of Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath, who was playing in his 200th one-day international.


A 91-run partnership between in-form captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and Shoaib Malik was the highlight of Pakistan's innings, although allrounder Shahid Afridi contributed a whirlwind 26 from 15 balls.


But it was too little too late for Pakistan after they lost openers Salman Butt for a duck and Kamran Akmal for four before Mohammad Hafeez crashed for 13 and Yousuf Youhana was out for two.


Lee made the early breakthrough when he had Salman lbw with a sizzling deliver, starting a fine spell which he finished with match-best figures of 3-23 from 10 overs.


McGrath was also in good form, taking 3-34 including his 300th international one-day wicket when Hafeez top-edged a catch to Shane Watson.


The Australians had earlier looked uncharacteristically shaky with the bat following the decision to drop established opener Matthew Hayden -- against the wishes of captain Ricky Ponting -- in favour of 23-year-old Michael Clarke.


Clarke, who has previously had great success coming up the order, was removed for just nine lbw by Rana Naved-ul-Hasan with Australia on 29.


Allrounder Abdul Razzaq sparked the first of Australia's two 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 in the 13th over.


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


It was left to one-day specialist Andrew Symonds to anchor an otherwise lacklustre and inconsistent innings for the Australians.


Symonds, voted Australia's one-day player of the year last week, made 91 off 101 balls, bolstering a patchy innings from the hosts in a 137-run partnership with Damien Martyn for the fourth wicket.


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


The Symonds-Martyn partnership carried Australia to the apparent safety of 190 for 3 at the start of the 41st over.


But Pakistan were far from beaten and the host nation suddenly lost 7-47 in a spell which saw both Afridi and Razzaq on hat-tricks, though neither could complete them.


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


However, the tourists will rue put-down catches, a missed stumping and several misfields with Rana and Mohammad Khalil colliding at one point.


The two teams will now meet in Sydney on Sunday for the second match of the best-of-three finals series.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)


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