Australia 199-6 (Clarke 66, Bailey 57no) beat
Pakistan 198 (Shafiq 56, Starc 5-42) by 4 wickets
First One-Day International, Sharjah
Australia just about managed to overhaul Pakistan’s modest total of 198 in the opening ODI between the two sides in Sharjah. They struggled throughout their innings against the nominal home side’s spinners and had stuttered to 87 for four at the halfway stage in their run chase. However, Michael, Clarke, George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell starred with the willow and they got home with four wickets and 10 balls to spare.
Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq had won the toss and chosen to bat in the heat of the early evening. He saw Mohammad Hafeez and Azhar Ali walk back the pavilion early on, both off the bowling of James Pattinson. Pattinson formed a potent new ball attack with Mitchell Starc, who took four wickets against Afghanistan three days ago, and removed Nasir Jamshed (23) in the final over of the mandatory powerplay today.
After that, Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq attempted a rebuild, but the former was undone when trying to up the pace and dragged on off Dan Christian for 26. Fortunately for Pakistan, the exuberant Umar Akmal joined Shafiq and the pair boosted the score by 61 during their fifth-wicket stand.
Starc then returned in the batting powerplay and dispensed with Shafiq (56), Kamran Akmal (4) and Shahid Afridi (0) in the space of the five overs, before following up with the wicket of Umar Akmal for 52 off 55 balls to complete his five-wicket haul. Pakistan lost their last six wickets for 38 runs and were all out for 198.
Australia had relied on pace to bowl out Pakistan, but the home side immediately showed that their strengths lied elsewhere and opened the bowling with Mohammad Hafeez. The off-spinner found almost immediate success, having David Warner bowled for five in his second over. There followed a steady procession of wickets as Australia’s top-order failed to cope against some quality spin bowling. Matthew Wade played an ugly slog off Shahid Afridi and was caught ; Mike Hussey played for turn that wasn’t there off Saeed Ajmal; while his brother David was caught at slip off the same bowler to make it 67 for four.
Michael Clarke, though, was still there and found a willing ally in the form of George Bailey and the two put on 54 for the fifth-wicket. Clarke’s wicket when on 66 could have proved to be the turning point in the match, coming as it did with Australia on 121 and exposing the inexperienced all-rounders, but Glenn Maxwell came in and took the attack to the bowlers. He hit a run-a-ball 38 and by the time he departed, Australia needed just 15 more to win from 27 balls.
George Bailey and Dan Christian saw that the task was completed, with Bailey, rapidly gaining a reputation as having a calm head under pressure, ending on 57 not out off 88 balls to steer his side home in the penultimate over.
And with that, Australia go one-up in the three-match series, with the next match in Abu Dhabi on Friday night. The two sides will then face off in three Twenty20 Internationals in Dubai before heading off to Sri Lanka for the World Twenty20.
© Cricket World 2012
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