By BV Swagath
Australia worked extremely hard to clinch a 4-wicket win in the 1st ODI at Sharjah despite asked to chase a low target of 199. That was because of incredible bowling spells from Saeed Ajmal (10-0-30-3) and Mohammad Hafeez (10-1-29-2). Australia at one stage were staring at a possible defeat at 67 for 4 in 18 overs but a responsible 66 (from 96 balls with 5 fours) from Skipper Michael Clarke kept them in the hunt.
After Clarke’s exit at 121 for 5, the match was heavily in favour of Pakistan but a solid stand of 63 between George Bailey and Glenn Maxwell (run-a-ball 38) got the Aussies within striking distance of the target. Bailey batted very slowly but made up by staying till the end to finish the match for Australia with an unbeaten 57 from 88 balls (with a four and a six). The Aussies dragged the match to ultimately finish it in 48.2 overs! They were absolutely clueless against Saeed Ajmal who bowled his doosra at will and ended up conceding just the one boundary in his entire 10 overs!
Pakistan Innings Update: Pakistan have been bundled out for a paltry total of 198 in the first ODI at Sharjah. Although the pitch was on the slower side and was two paced, Pakistan’s low total was mainly because of some atrocious shot selection. Tall left-arm fast bowler Mitchell Starc produced a superb bowling spell of 10-2-42-5 on a pitch that wasn’t really conducive for fast bowling.
The Pakistanis lost their first wicket in the 5th over with Mohammad Hafeez (4) playing a cover drive early off James Pattinson to spoon a catch to covers. In the 7th over, Azhar Ali too played a shot early off the same bowler to spoon a catch to mid on to leave Pak at 28 for 2. In the 10th over, left-handed opener Nasir Jamshed, who looked good until then on 23 looked to steer a short ball from Starc to thirdman but instead got caught by a diving Matthew Wade behind the stumps.
Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq repaired the situation with Asad Shafiq by adding 59 runs for the fourth wicket. But the Pakistani Skipper threw his wicket away when he dragged a slog off Daniel Christian onto his stumps. Misbah scored 26 while exiting at 99 for 4 in the 25th over. Pak were back on the track thanks to a nice 61-run stand between Asad Shafiq and Umar Akmal which ended in the 36th over. Shafiq after a 77-ball 56 (with 2 fours and 2 sixes) made room for a cover drive but only to get his stumps rattled by Starc.
Pakistan’s downfall started in the batting powerplay with the experienced Kamran Akmal and Shahid Afridi playing poor shots to get out to Starc. Soon the score was 180 for 7 in the 42nd over as the well set Umar Akmal drove Starc into the hands of point. While Starc took 5 wickets, his opening partner James Pattinson came up with mean returns of 9.1-0-18-3.
Toss and Teams: Pakistan has won the toss and elected to bat first at Sharjah in the First ODI of the Cool & Cool Cup against Australia. The Pakistanis have gone in with a spin heavy team. Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi and all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez will be the spin trio while the only two pacers in the line-up are Aijaz Cheema and Sohail Tanvir.