Australia Fend Off Afghan Challenge
Australia 272-8 (Clarke 75, Wade 75) beat
Afghanistan 206 (Starc 4-47) by 66 runs
Only One-Day International, Sharjah
Afghanistan put in a spirited performance, but Australia were ultimately too good for them in the one-off One-Day International in Sharjah. Nonetheless, they showed encouraging signs during what was only their second go at playing a full member nation and did well to make 206 against what is a potent Australian bowling attack.
The match was played solely at night in order to try and counter the oppressive heat in the UAE at this time of year, but the temperature still comfortably topped 30 degrees Celsius for much of the match. Australia won the toss and Michael Clarke had no hesitation in opting to bat on a pitch that looked as flat as any you will see.
Matthew Wade and David Warner struggled for fluency initially against Afghanistan’s promising new-ball pairing of Shapoor Zadran and Dawlat Zadran, but Warner soon found his range. He had progressed to 24 off just 17 balls before Shapoor found his edge and Mohammad Shahzad held the catch behind the stumps. After that, it was a period of quiet accumulation for Australia. Michael Clarke, who had promoted himself to number three, joined Wade and the two shared a mammoth second-wicket partnership of 131 in almost 30 overs.
Wade was finally out caught and bowled to off-spinner Mohammad Nabi (two for 50), who also accounted for debutant Glenn Maxwell, who had been sent in to take advantage of the batting powerplay, in his next over, while leg-spinner Samiullah Shenwari (one for 48) removed Clarke for 75 to make it 181 for four. Mike Hussey, though, provided the innings with late momentum and ended made 49 off just 37 balls, while George Bailey chipped in with 23 off 16 as Australia closed on 272 for eight.
In reply, Afghanistan lost Javed Ahmadi in Mitchell Starc’s opening over and slipped to 49 for four thanks to another from Starc and a brace from James Pattinson. However, Asghar Stanikzai and Mohammad Nabi put on 86 for the fifth-wicket to give them hope, before Nabi was bowled by Mitchell Johnson for 46. Stanikzai fell not long afterwards for 66 to effectively seal the win for Australia, and, but for some lusty blows from number nine Gulbodin Naib (22 off 17 balls), that was that. Afghanistan were all out for 206 in the 44th over; beaten but by no means disgraced – their performance only strengthening their position as one of cricket’s leading emerging nations.
© Cricket World 2012
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