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Andrew Symonds: Real surprise package

Not many were familiar with the name Andrew Symonds. But after his pyrotechnics at The Wanderers, not many will forget his name in times to come.

india Updated: Feb 21, 2003 23:10 IST

Not many were familiar with the name Andrew Symonds. But after his pyrotechnics at The Wanderers, not many will forget his name in times to come.

It was a high artillery clash between Pakistan and Australia and there was a burning question in the air whether the mighty Aussies be demoralised and collapse in the face of the expected Pakistan pace-trio.

Pakistan skipper Waqar Younis's decision to put Aussie into bat seemed to pay rich dividends but only till Symonds strode to the crease.

At 52 for 3 and later 86 for 4, you'd expect Australia to give way. This time, crisis man Steve Waugh wasn't there, Michael Bevan was out - injured, and worse, even Darren Lehmann was not available for the game.

Symonds' job at the crease was to consolidate the innings with skipper Ricky Ponting and ensure a respectable total for the bowlers to defend.

But instead, he went on a mission exactly opposite to it — counter attack. He showed all the qualities that one would expect from anybody who is in the Australian team. Self-belief, aggression and most importantly the will to dominate the opposition. He raced to his 100 off just 92 deliveries with 15 fours, the second 50 consuming just 33 deliveries.

He laid an assault on one of the best seam attack in the world consisting of Shoaib Akhtar, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis. He treated them like club bowlers and they went to pieces.

Initially, he brought the Aussie innings back on track with some sensible strokeplay and showed one of the most devastating hitting one-day cricket has witnessed for a long time at the fag end.

Pulling the ball with exquisite timing and authority, and carving boundaries on the off side whenever offered the width, he repeatedly punished anything even fractionally off-target. Akhtar, Razzaq, Waqar and Akram were all at the receiving end and Pakistan captain's reflection of sheer frustration was clearly revealed when he bowled two beamers at him. Afridi was, in particular, was given a savage treatment.

It hardly shook Symonds and in the end, he left no chance whatsoever for Pakistan to comeback in the game. His 143 off 125 balls was an innings of unparalleled majesty that guided Australia to a total of 310.

Though there were some other brilliant knocks in the first week of the World Cup —
Brian Lara (116) and Lance Klusener (57) in the opening game, an unbeaten 172 by Craig Wishart against Namibia. 120 by Sanath Jayasuriya and 141 by Scott Styris but Andrew Symonds's knock clearly took the honours.

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First Published: Feb 18, 2003 19:45 IST