Monday, January 18, 2010

Bowlers hand Australia 3-0 clean-sweep

Australia 8 for 519 dec and 5 for 219 dec beat Pakistan 301 and 206 (Manzoor 77, Siddle 3-25, Hauritz 3-30) by 231 runs

Australia wrapped up their 12th consecutive Test victory over Pakistan on the final afternoon in Hobart, where Khurram Manzoor's fighting half-century was not enough to salvage a draw for the visitors. Nathan Hauritz added to his growing reputation as Test bowler by picking up the key wicket of Manzoor and finished with three, while Peter Siddle also grabbed a trio of victims.

Despite showers being forecast, the only sprinkling of rain came during the lunch break and it wasn't enough to delay Australia's charge to a series clean-sweep and a fifth Test win of the summer. Australia have now equalled the record for the most consecutive Test wins by any country over any other nation, matching the 12-game streak currently held by Sri Lanka over Bangladesh.

The only slight concerns for Australia came during a 66-run seventh-wicket stand between Manzoor and Mohammad Aamer. Manzoor, who came in for this Test at No. 3, enhanced his chances of keeping his place in the side with a patient 77 from 239 deliveries that gave Pakistan, for the morning at least, a tiny sniff of saving the game.

Manzoor showed impressive resolve for most of his innings but it didn't hold, and soon after an injudicious swipe against Hauritz he slashed at a cut against the spinner and was caught behind. The rest of Pakistan's resistance fell away and Hauritz had Umar Gul brilliantly caught at slip by Michael Clarke for a duck, before Mohammad Asif (0) was bowled by Mitchell Johnson.

Hauritz finished with 3 for 30 and was comfortably the leading wicket-taker for the series, with 18 at 23.05. Siddle was also happy with his 3 for 25, which was his best return of a lean summer, and he wrapped up the victory with the second new ball when Danish Kaneria played on for 1.

Pakistan's victory target of 438 was not the issue for Australia, they simply needed to grab the remaining wickets while the weather held up. Showers had been tipped on the final day but the Tasmanian local Ricky Ponting, who was confident in his knowledge of the state's weather, had his decision not to enforce the follow-on vindicated.

Australia began the day impressively wth Shoaib Malik caught behind off Siddle for 19, after adding only one to his overnight score. That was the key breakthrough for Australia as it opened the way into Pakistan's lower order, and the wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed finished his debut Test with a disappointing batting return when he was caught at slip off Hauritz for 5.

Sarfraz departed in strange circumstances, when his edge clipped the gloves of Brad Haddin, went through the hands of Clarke and onto his boot before bouncing up for Clarke to complete the catch. If Pakistan had made their catches stick throughout the series it might have been a more enjoyable tour for them. Now they must wait until the two Tests in England in July to redeem themselves.

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