Monday, March 21, 2011

The Streak has ended.

The streak has ended, 34 matches across 3 World Cups. A tense 4 wicket to Pakistan has given them top spot in the group.

The Australian top order was shut down with the use of seam from Gul (3-30) and showed up the Australians as truly lacking a confident match winning batsman amongst them. Ricky Ponting again will become the scape goat for much of the Aussie media as he struggled at the crease, and sparked unwarranted controversy when not walking on a full blooded nick to the keeper. The umpires original decisions was not out and it took a Pakistan review to see the back of him.

I didn't see anything wrong in Ponting standing his ground, and has long been one to wait for the umpires decision before leaving. With the introduction of the review system, why not make the opposition earn your wicket if the umpire is unsure. And I think we need to get used to the possibility of seeing more of this type of stand-off between batsman, bowler and umpire.

Australia had not faced a serious challenge in previous games and the result will surely stiffen their resolve ahead of the knockout phase of the competition, where a clash with India awaits. Their batting display against Pakistan was an oddly subdued effort and Shane Watson had already been bowled for nine by the impressive Gul before skipper Ricky Ponting was dismissed in controversial circumstances.

Australia have been saying how they wanted a test after easing through most of the group stage but the batting wasn't up to it on a difficult surface that offered spin and a touch of uneven bounce. Two batsmen desperate for a substantial innings, Ponting (19) and Cameron White (8), both struggled leaving the lower order exposed to an attack that had all the bases covered on a surface offering spin and reverse swing.

After their batting subsided with 20 balls unused, Australia's only chance was to bowl Pakistan out, but in the event it required Lee himself to do most of the damage. He removed both openers in a fiery new-ball burst before returning to claim Younis Khan and Misbah-ul-Haq with consecutive deliveries in 23rd over, leaving Pakistan wobbling on 98 for 4.

The remaining members of the pace attack were found wanting, With attacking fields set by Ricky Ponting, further boundaries were notched up by Kamran and Shafiq, who had to battle some pain after twisting his ankle, but Lee kept his side in the match singlehandedly.

This match didn't have the do or die emotions of the England/West Indies as both sides progressed though, but Australia will now face one of the top seeds to India a little earlier into he knock out phases than they'd like. Australia I think will struggle against India and we could be seeing the end of the tournament for the men in green & gold. For all the beating up of the associate nations like a school yard bully, on a testing surface Australia were found to be searching for answers from each other, rather than from within.

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