Starc's five restrict Pakistan to 198 - 08-28-2012, 03:30 PM
Asad Shafiq scored a well-paced half-century, but fell right at the start of the second Powerplay © AFP
Pakistan's ambassador to the UAE sat cordially with his Indian counterpart as they watched Misbah-ul-Haq's team bat against Australia. There was nothing diplomatic, however, about the way Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson set about the batting, snipping the top off the innings with the new ball, then strangling the middle order in the batting Powerplay on the way to rounding up Pakistan for 198 in 45.1 overs. The last six wickets fell for 38 runs to ensure Pakistan lodged their lowest total against Australia in Sharjah.
This had seemed a good toss for Pakistan to win in enervating heat but, apart from an energetic stand of 61 between Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal, it was the batsmen who did the wilting in the early evening. Starc followed up his four wickets against Afghanistan with five here for his best ODI figures, while Pattinson claimed three while conceding little more than two runs per over.
Both Starc and Pattinson were the beneficiaries of some abject Pakistan batting, as a succession of players succumbed to the pressure applied by the pace bowlers in concert with the constricting fields set by the captain Michael Clarke. The tourists' sole specialist spinner, Xavier Doherty, had been deemed surplus to requirements as Clarke chose to lean heavily on his pacemen, and the strategy was justified by how effectively Pakistan's strokemakers were neutered.
They had hinted at an aggressive start as Pattinson and Starc strained for early swing by pursuing a very full length. Starc twice appealed for LBW against Mohammad Hafeez only to be denied by each ball pitching a fraction outside leg stump - the second also costing Australia their lone decision review.
Pattinson's penchant for landing the ball on the seam was to be rewarded when one such delivery stopped a little, causing Hafeez to pop a catch to short cover. Azhar Ali fell in similar fashion, chipping to mid on, but Nasir Jamshed was victim of a snorter from Starc, who coaxed sharp bounce from an otherwise moribund surface to offer Matthew Wade a sharp chance behind the stumps.
Misbah and Shafiq were unhurried in trying to regather the innings, while Clarke pushed through a handful of overs via himself and Hussey. Mitchell Johnson and the allrounder Dan Christian offered a few more scoring avenues, and Glenn Maxwell's introduction had Shafiq swinging a six to midwicket.
Though Christian's change-up brought Misbah undone, Umar Akmal's aggression in Shafiq's company had Pakistan placed neatly enough at 159 for 4 when they took the batting Powerplay after 35 overs. Having played with no little intelligence to that point, Shafiq could not resist the temptation to try to pierce the field, and an ugly swish at Starc had his stumps splayed.
Kamran Akmal could not get comfortable, and in the last of the Powerplay overs he spooned a catch to mid on. Clarke's knack for astute field placings was to be rewarded the very next ball with the prized wicket of Shahid Afridi, edging Starc low to the captain at slip. The Powerplay had thus reaped three wickets at a cost of 17 runs, and the rest of the innings petered out.
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