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McGrath ends Pakistan's Tri-series dream
by AFP


Ground:Sydney Cricket Ground, Sydney
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:RT Ponting, Inzamam-ul-Haq, AC Gilchrist, GD McGrath, Mohammad Yousuf, Shahid Afridi
Event:VB Series 2004/05

DateLine: 6th February 2005

 

Australia clinched the Tri-series finals 2-0 after brittle top-order batting and an inspired spell by paceman Glenn McGrath shattered Pakistan's hopes of an upset in the limited-overs tournament.

 

The hosts Sunday posted 239-9 off their 50 overs and claimed a 31-run victory after Pakistan were dismissed for 208 in reply.

 

After losing the first match in the best-of-three finals series last Friday, Pakistan had to win at the Sydney Cricket Ground to keep the contest alive.

 

And when they restricted the world champions to a relatively low score on an excellent batting wicket, it seemed they were in with a chance.

 

But McGrath claimed 5-27 off 7.4 overs including the key wicket of allrounder Abdul Razzaq just when he offered his team a glimmer of hope.

 

As was the case in Melbourne Pakistan were their own worst enemies, with some careless shots and needless run-outs proving their undoing in matches which could have been theirs for the taking.

 

In Melbourne they had crashed to 27 for 4, in Sydney it was 38 for 4 and despite the obvious potential of the middle order batsmen, no one could build the strong innings needed.

 

Yousuf Youhana offered hope with 51, which included five boundaries, but spinner Brad Hogg clean bowled him with a wrong 'un to send Pakistan spiralling to 97 for 6.

 

Razzaq defied the Australians with a late 43 off 58 balls. He and Shahid Afridi emerged as Pakistan's last chance of salvation.

 

But that slender hope was ended by some brilliant fielding from Brett Lee. He fired in a delivery from the boundary straight to Adam Gilchrist, who whipped off the bails a fraction of a second before Afridi could slide his bat in for a second run.

 

His 31 from 21 balls once again showcased his ability to belt the ball from the first delivery but was not enough to carry Pakistan to a challenging position.

 

Captain Inzamam-ul-Haq, who came in at number five, had scored five half centuries during the series. But he lost form at a crucial time to be trapped lbw for a duck on the third ball he faced.

 

Although he went quietly, Inzamam would have been within his rights to question why his team had earlier been denied a similar appeal against Gilchrist.

 

It was Gilchrist who had set up the Australian innings with a 40-run flurry off 30 balls but his input could have been cut short. Pakistan were refused what appeared to be a legitimate lbw appeal while he was on 12.

 

The Australians, who won the toss, took just seven overs to bring up the 50.

 

But the pace of the game changed when Razzaq had Gilchrist caught by Shoaib Malik in the ninth over with the score on 55.

 

Pakistan's bowlers then rose to the challenge, bowling straight off a good length to curb the run rate.

 

Australian pace bowler Lee was named Man of the Series after capturing a total of 16 wickets.

 

"Pakistan pushed us all the way in the last two games but luckily we came through with our noses in front," said Australian captain Ricky Ponting.

 

Inzamam said his team had improved as their Australian tour progressed.

 

"These last couple of games in this one-day series ... the boys are working really hard and playing really good cricket," he said.

(Article: Copyright © 2005 AFP)

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