Wed, Apr 29, 2009 - Page 20 News List

Clarke leads Australia spin threat

AFP , ABU DHABI

Michael Clarke’s all-round performance helped his team give Pakistan a dose of their own medicine as Australia won the third day-night international by 27 runs at Abu Dhabi Stadium on Monday.

The 28-year-old hit a fighting 66 to anchor an otherwise struggling Australian innings that helped them reach 198-7 in their allotted 50 overs before claiming 3-15 to bowl Pakistan out for 171 in 47.1 overs.

Clarke’s brilliant bowling — which saw Pakistan lose their 10 wickets in the space of 76 runs — steered his team to a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

Pakistan won the first match by four wickets, while Australia clinched the second by six wickets — both played in Dubai last week.

The remaining two matches will be played in Abu Dhabi on Friday and Monday. The only Twenty20 match is scheduled for Dubai on May 7.

Shoaib Malik (30) and Sohail Tanvir (11) added 22 for the eighth wicket to raise hopes of Pakistan’s win before both were dismissed on the same score of 170.

Clarke and Nathan Hauritz got two wickets each off successive deliveries as Pakistan, approaching the target with openers Salman Butt (48) and Ahmed Shahzad (40) and having put 95 for the first wicket in 22 overs, lost four wickets in the space of 12 runs.

Off-spinner Hauritz (2-25) struck with the first ball of the 23 over, forcing an edge off Butt’s bat for a smart low catch in the slip. Butt hit seven boundaries during his 77-ball knock.

The very next ball, Younus Khan spooned a catch to mid-on off a ball that stopped on him. Two overs later, Clarke dismissed Misbah-ul-Haq (9), caught at long-on and as the batsmen crossed, Clarke bowled Shahzad with a straight delivery. Shahzad, playing only his second match, hit five boundaries off 61 balls.

Clarke sent Shahid Afridi back in his third over, leaving Pakistan at 123-5. He credited Hauritz as the man who opened the doors for the team.

“As a bowler I am okay, but I think Hauritz provided the breakthrough and later I took three wickets,” said Clarke, who also completed 50 one-day wickets in the match.

Pakistan captain Younus Khan blamed poor batting for the defeat.

“We need to learn this from Australia — how they did not give up on the event after putting a low total and forced a win by taking wicket,” he said.

Earlier, it was Clarke the batsman who hit a valiant 66 during an innings-building phase after Australia, who won the toss and batted, were made to struggle for runs by some accurate Pakistani bowling.

Clarke, who hit eight boundaries during his 93-ball knock, added 54 for the fifth wicket with Callum Ferguson (41) and 46 for the third wicket with opener Brad Haddin (26).

Clarke, who managed just 4 and 39 in the first two matches, anchored the innings Australia had lost after two early wickets with James Hopes (15) and Shane Watson (0).

Malik removed Haddin, while leg-spinner Afridi had the dangerous Andrew Symonds for seven.

Clarke and Ferguson took the score to 145 by the 39th over when Clarke gave a return catch to Afridi to end Australia’s hopes of a big total.

Ferguson hit four boundaries during his 68-ball knock.

Paceman Umar Gul returned with the best figures with 3-38, while Afridi took 2-31. Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, reported for suspect bowling action on Sunday, failed to get a wicket.

Both Australia and Pakistan made two changes each, with Pakistan resting Shoaib Akhtar, who played the two matches despite a high fever.

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