Pakistan snap champions' streak

Australia's Jason Krejza reacts after being bowled for seven runs by Pakistan's Umar Gul during their Cricket World Cup match in Colombo, Sri Lanka. AP Photo  The sight of an Australian implosion might have pushed his mind back to the days when the Antipodeans, including him, ruled the world mercilessly, not so long ago.

Langer, now the Australian batting coach, watched helplessly from the dressing room an utterly disappointing effort from his wards, getting skittled out for 176 with 3.2 overs to spare against a set of supremely effective Pakistan bowlers on Saturday after batting by choice.

The total wasn’t enough to hinder Pakistan from scoring a four-wicket victory, and it also ended Australia’s 34-match unbeaten streak dating back to the 1999 World Cup in England. And for the minds interested in quirky facts, it was Pakistan who beat them last in a World Cup match twelve years ago on May 16 at Headingley, Leeds.

In what could have been a real worry for Langer, who might have chewed off a good part of his nails, the Australian batsmen failed to get the measure of the first seriously skilled bowling attack they faced in this edition of the quadrennial mega bash.

Umar Gul, Abdul Razzaq and Wahab Riaz produced spells of high-class pace bowling while spinners Abdur Rehman, Shahid Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez were spot on. More importantly, Pakistan fielders were blemish-free on the field, and even Kamran Akmal held on to three catches.

With Pakistan bowlers and fielders functioning like a well-oiled machine Australians struggled to get a move on and the pitch that had a hint of uneven bounce made their task all the more difficult.

The stage for an extraordinary day was set in the initial moments of the match when Gul and Rehman, while opening the bowling, tied down the two in-form Australian batsmen Brad Haddin and Shane Watson. Never at any stage the did the duo look capable of breaking the shackles and Gul’s nip-backer ended the agony of Watson.

The most stable phase of Australian innings followed the dismissal as Haddin and Ponting mustered 63 runs for the second wicket. It was not that they imposed themselves upon bowlers but the batsmen just hang in there, giving the impression of an imminent big stand.

Ponting also had the assistance of fortune as Misbah-ul-Haq failed to grab a sharp chance at square leg off Hafeez, and it seemed to offer the Australian skipper the piece of luck he has been searching in this tournament thus far. But that wasn’t to be as Ponting perished in the same over, snicking Hafeez to Kamran behind the stumps.
Thereafter none of the Aussie batsmen stayed long enough to take their team to a competitive total as the defending champions lost all their ten wickets for the first time in 28 one-day innings.

Trust the Australians to defend with all their strength. They unleashed the heavy artillery straightway on Pakistan openers with Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson letting loose thunderbolts measuring in the region of late 140 kmph to early 150s.

Lee was exceptional, gluing together pace and precision to a nicety and the New South Welshman fetched the first breakthrough, dismissing Hafeez and a little while later accounted for Kamran too.

The tireless pacer returned for his second spell, removing Younis Khan and Misbah in successive deliveries. But the spirit of one man was not sufficient to save Australia on the day as Pakistan, who topped the Group A, ended their magnificent run.

SCORE BOARD

AUSTRALIA

Watson b Gul    9
(16b, 1x4)
Haddin c Kamran b Riaz    42
(80b, 3x4, 1x6)
Ponting c Kamran b Hafeez    19
(33b, 2x4)
Clarke b Razzaq    34
(48b, 2x4)
White (run out)    8
(34b, 2x4)
Hussey c Misbah b Rehman    12
(22b)
Smith b Afridi    25
(32b, 1x4)
Johnson c Kamran b Razzaq    0
(3b)
Krejza b Gul    7
(19b)
Lee c Misbah b Gul    5
(9b, 1x4)
Tait (not out)    0
(1b)
Extras (LB-5, W-10)    15
Total (all out, 46.4 overs)    176
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Watson), 2-75 (Ponting), 3-90 (Haddin), 4-117 (White), 5-134 (Clarke), 6-144 (Hussey), 7-147 (Johnson), 8-169 (Krejza), 9-176 (Smith).
Bowling: Gul 7.4-1-30-3 (W-2), Rehman 10-0-34-1 (w-1), Afridi 9-0-34-1 (W-2), Riaz 6-0-39-1 (W-5), Hafeez 10-0-26-1, Razzaq 4-0-8-2.
Scoring Pattern: 5 overs: 12/1, 10: 36/1, 20: 82/2, 30: 117/3, 40: 148/7, End of Innings: 176 all out in 46.4 overs.
Power Play 1: 1-10: 36/1, Power Play 2: 11-15: 31/0, Power Play 3 (batting): 45.1-50: 0/1 in 0.4 overs.

PAKISTAN

Kamran lbw Lee    23
(27b, 5x4)
Hafeez c&b Lee    5
(8b, 1x4)
Shafiq c Watson b Johnson    46
(81b, 5x4)
Younis c Haddin b Lee    31
(42b, 4x4)
Misbah c Haddin b Lee    0
(1b)
 Umar (not out)    44
(59b, 4x4, 1x6)
Afridi c Lee b Krejza    2
(4b)
Razzaq (not out)    20
(24b, 2x4)
Extras (B-2, LB-1, W-4)    7
Total (6 wkts, 41 overs)    178
Fall of wickets: 1-12 (Hafeez), 2-45 (Kamran), 3-98 (Younis), 4-98 (Misbah), 5-139 (Shafiq), 6-142 (Afridi).
Bowling: Lee 8-1-28-4, Tait 8-1-37-0 (w-3), Johnson 9-1-40-1 (w-1), Watson 6-0-26-0, Krejza 10-0-44-1
Scoring Pattern: 5 overs: 21/1, 10: 45/2, 20: 84/2, 30: 131/4, 40: 169/6, End of Innings: 178/6 in 41 overs. Runs during Power Play: Power Play 1: 1-10: 45/2, Power Play 2: 11-15: 17/0, Power Play 3 (batting): Not taken.

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