From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.40 :: Oct. 03, 2009

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CRICKET / CHAMPIONS TROPHY/PAKISTAN-WEST INDIES

Low-scoring, but still engrossing

The West Indies was in with a chance with Pakistan at 76 for five but the young Umar Akmal and stand-in skipper Shahid Afridi guided the side home.

The pitch at the Wanderers has a reputation of being very lively, at least at the beginning of the season. The ball flies around and a ’keeper regularly gathers deliveries, still climbing, over his head.

The pacemen were in their element in the ICC Champions Trophy game between Pakistan and the West Indies. The patches of grass and the hardness of the surface constantly tested the batsmen. There was seam movement and bounce for the quicker bowlers. Pa kistan clinched this engrossing low-scoring game by five wickets.

The depleted West Indies was beaten but certainly not disgraced after being bundled out for 133. Paceman Gavin Tonge, big and strong, scalped four by hitting the right areas and as he said later “allowing the pitch to do the rest.”

Tonge probed the batsmen around the off-stump, pitching the ball up and taking it away. He drew the batsmen into fatal drives and ’keeper Walton had a busy time behind the stumps.

Tonge extracted good bounce from a high-arm action without providing the batsmen width. The 26-year-old paceman from Antigua was not as fast as his pace bowling partner Tino Best but constantly threatened with his discipline and control.

The West Indians were in with a chance with Pakistan at 76 for five but the young Umar Akmal and stand-in skipper Shahid Afridi — Younus Khan was nursing a hairline fracture on his finger — guided the side home. Umar showed much courage in the face of adversity, even taking blows on the body. He has wonderful hand-and-eye coordination and can play strokes on both sides of the wicket. It would have been a learning experience for Umar, a budding sub-continental batsman, on a pitch favouring pacemen and the Pakistani showed he was willing to slug it out and evolve.

Umar’s effort (41 not out, 51b, 6x4) fetched him the Man of the Match award in a bowler-dominated duel.

Earlier, only a battling 51 (57b, 6x4, 1x6) from Nikita Miller enabled the West Indies to cross the 125-run mark after Floyd Reifer elected to bat. Left-armer Mohammed Aamer with a quick-arm action and two-way movement struck almost immediately.

He was sharp and bowled in the right places. Both Aamer and Umar Gul changed their length adeptly, whether pitching the ball up or banging it in short.

Resultantly, the West Indians were tentative in their feet movement and their batting fell apart. The batsmen played away from the body and paid the price.

Before long, the side was a sorry 47 for seven with Aamer and Gul, who used the full-length-short-ball routine particularly well, making deep inroads.

Sammy and Miller offered a measure of resistance. Sammy essayed a couple of extravagant inside-out cover-drives. Miller produced a few spunky shots as well. Eventually, Sammy yorked himself while trying to play a flighted, fuller delivery from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal. Miller took the score past the 100-run mark and reached his maiden ODI half-century.

The West Indies competed hard on the field but was short by at least 50 runs.

THE SCORES

West Indies 133 in 34.3 overs (D. Sammy 25, N. Miller 51, M. Aamer three for 24, U. Gul three for 28) lost to Pakistan 134 for five in 30.3 overs (U. Akmal 41 not out, G. Tonge four for 25).

S. Dinakar



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