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For a change, Aussies made to chase leather

cricket Updated: May 14, 2010 23:36 IST
Anand Vasu
Anand Vasu
Hindustan Times
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As though someone was throwing a switch to activate the power, showers came and went in little bursts through Thursday night and Friday morning. In the end this only delayed the start of the game, not reducing it, but the build-up to a semifinal was dampened, and the organised Australian team seemed to have been shaken by it. Pakistan, however, used to chaos, thrived in the first half of their batting, pushing the Australians onto the back foot by scoring 191 for 6 from their 20 overs.

Both teams played unchanged sides, keeping the faith in the players that had got them this far in the competition. With the air thick with moisture and the pitch having been under the covers for an extended period, Michael Clarke had little hesitation in putting Pakistan in.

The Australian pace battery has run away with the early stages of most matches and the approach was no different on the day, with Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait hurling thunderbolts. The only difference, though, was that Pakistan's openers, unlike other opposition, were not cowed down. Salman Butt and Umar Akmal were confident enough to try and make use of the extra pace on offer, and though the connections were not always clean, the runs flowed.

Australia's bowlers showed hints of frustration as the 50 was raised without a wicket falling. Kamran, the more aggressive of the two openers, got to his own half-century, and it was only an acrobatic catch in the outfield that gave Australia a breakthrough. David Warner, tumbling to his right, latched on to the Kamran offering. The agile fielder would be in business once again soon after as Butt tried to heave leggie Steven Smith out of the ground and holed out.

With two new batsmen at the crease the runs dried out a touch, allowing Australia to regain control of proceedings. Adapting quickly to the conditions, Clarke pressed part-time spinner David Hussey into service and then took the ball himself. Hussey struck the crucial blow, inducing a sliced drive from Shahid Afridi that Brad Haddin held onto, running towards point, but not before colliding with Shane Watson.

Umar Akmal (56 n.o.) provided impetus in the back half of the innings, taking on the quick men and their short deliveries, clattering the ball over the ropes more than once. Finally, someone had taken the fight to the Australians.