Symonds Destroys Pakistan

World Cup Cricket News 12/02/03

Report By Jon Cocks

From the early lofted top edge of Gilchrist to the reflex diving catch by McGrath to dismiss Waqar from Ian Harvey that ended it, this game of cricket was dominated by a Man-of-the-Match-winning, career-shaping 143 from 125 balls by Andrew Symonds . The highest individual ODI score at the Wanderers’ Ground in Johannesburg, it was described by Richie Benaud as ‘potential turned into reality’. His stunning catch of Yousuf Youhanna was the cherry on the pie.

Standing up in this first phase World Cup contest to cover the abrupt loss of Shane Warne - owing to his positive drug test on a diuretic to restrict fluid buildup in his healing shoulder – lesser lights like Brad Hogg and late tour inclusion Ian Harvey helped steer Australia with bat and ball to a commanding 82 run victory over Pakistan at the Wanderers’ Ground in Johannesburg

Ultimately, the difference between the sides could be found in the way Australia – led by a rampant Symonds - consistently built partnerships that Pakistan’s batsmen were unable to match in reply. Glenn McGrath’s and Jason Gillespie’s probing opening spells shaded the nevertheless potent opening earlier in the day by Wasim and Shoaib.

An important factor in this difference was the cool head of the Australian captain, as opposed to his Pakistani counterpart. Where Ponting put his head down and made an innings-steadying 53 - after Australia wobbled at 3-50, with Gilchrist (1), Hayden (27) and Martyn (0) back in the shed - Waqar let his bowlers and fielders get behind the clock and caused his team to be docked an over in its innings.

Where Ponting had the faith in McGrath (1-39), Gillespie (1-28), Lee (1-37), Harvey (4-58) and Hogg (3-54) to bowl the right line to restrict scoring and maintain pressure, Waqar had to rely on the part-time offies of Younis Khan (0-36) to minimise the overs penalty, while Symonds clubbed Afridi’s whippy leggies (0-63) mercilessly

While Ponting’s assured bladework held back the early Pakistani inroads, Waqar’s bowling (2-50) lacked its old bite and his field placings were openly remonstrated over by his long-term rival Wasim (3-64). Pakistan – having inserted Australia – saw its bowling, fielding and leadership implode somewhat in the last 20 overs, as Symonds presided over the addition of 160 and yet another good start had been wasted.

None of Shahid Afridi (1), Salim Elahi (30), Inzamam (6) Yousuf Youhana (27), Younis Khan (19) or Abdur Razzaq (25), could break their Australian shackles. Rashid Latif (33) and Wasim Akram (33) struggled on at the death with some audacious boundaries from Harvey and Lee, but the damage had been done. At one point, Pakistan had lost seven wickets, while still trailing by almost 200.

Late in the Australian innings, the scoring was rampant and the Pakistan skipper had to cop the humiliating penalty of being removed halfway through an over from the attack by Umpire Shepherd for bowling his second beamer at Symonds. The only thing Waqar got absolutely right was the toss; he had early advantage in the field, but allowed it to slide.

Hayden (27) looked ominous, but chopped Wasim onto his off stump and Martyn was dismissed identically from the following delivery. Jimmy Maher (9) averted the hat trick, but fell to Waqar and Australia slumped to 4-86. Ponting – playing exquisite shots all round the wicket - and Symonds – finding his feet with a couple of cracking boundaries through the off side - steadied the ship for 60 runs.

After Ponting was caught by Taufeeq Umar from Shoaib (2-45), Symonds assumed command of proceedings, dominating partnerships with Hogg (14), Harvey (24), Lee (2) and Gillespie (6*). While Hogg hustled between the wickets, Harvey caressed two sweet glances and cracked a pull to the onside rope, Symonds bestrode the crease like a very tall, athletic Caesar, finally playing the innings that his promise so richly foretold.

When Symonds smeared the blistering drive through covers to raise his fifty, the Australian scoring rate, which had been close to a very creditable five for much of the innings, got closer to six. Later he smashed four boundaries from one Afridi over, in a knock some pundits are already comparing with some of Lara’s best. Overs 31-35 yielded over ten each on average, with Symonds harvesting 34 of them from 22 balls.

Symonds’ hundred - just the sixth ODI century ever at Johannesburg - came with a withering boundary from his 92nd ball faced and he celebrated by blasting the next one to the rope. Shoaib could make little impression late, although Harvey holed out to Waqar at mid off, trying to hit a six over mid off. Symonds smashed the first two balls of the 48th over to the rope and hit a six as an encore. Lee holed out, seeking to follow his example.

Pakistan never had a chance - after lunch - in this match. McGrath and Gillespie choked the boundaries that Afridi swung for so lustily. Taufeeq Umar chafed under the implacable Australian line and length and was taken all-too-soon at mid on from Gillespie, who swung the ball away at pace and found Afridi’s outside edge soon afterwards for Gilchrist’s 250th ODI catch. McGrath followed up with a relentless maiden and the dribble of runs caused the required rate to balloon towards seven per over.

Elahi swung and missed, but carved a couple over mid wicket. Twice Taufeeq leapt down the wicket to McGrath for boundaries, but the 7-2 field and the bowlers maintained the ruthless clamp on scoring. Brett Lee extra drew the top edge from Elahi for an easy catch to Hogg and both bowlers seamed and swung past the bat of Inzamam.

McGrath bowled his ten consecutively and Pakistan struggled to 3-81. When Ian Harvey replaced him, his first ball caused Elahi to loft it into the hands of Lee (Where’s Oswald?) Brad Hogg and Ian Harvey kept it tight. The former bamboozled with his wrong’un, the latter with the change of pace. Yousuf and Younis battled on, finding steady singles hard to gather, only occasionally beating the field.

Harvey’s slower ball induced an intemperate shot from Yousuf on the leg side that ended in the outstanding catch by Symonds. Running towards a flat hit on the leg side, Symonds threw himself into a ‘swan’ dive, clutching the ball millimetres above the turf. Hogg had Younis caught by Ponting, he caught and bowled Razzaq and then clean bowled Rashid with his final delivery.

Spirited hitting later in the innings from Rashid Latif and Wasim Akram gave brief hope to fluttering Pakistani hearts, but that died when Harvey ended the contest, snaring the Wasim-Waqar double with catches to Ponting and McGrath.

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