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Cricket
Pakistan party like it's 1999
Bowlers take credit as defending champs skittled for 176 to hand Australia first Cricket World Cup defeat in 12 years.
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2011 17:59
Afridi said the Pakistan bowlers 'stuck to their plans' to restrict Australia to a low total [AFP]


Australia's 34-match unbeaten run in the Cricket World Cup was finally broken as Ricky Ponting's team lost to Pakistan by four wickets, leaving Shahid Afridi's side on top of Group A.

Australia, who have won the last three World Cups during the run and were unbeaten in five matches in Group A in this tournament, were skittled out for 176 in Colombo on Saturday.

Pace bowler Brett Lee was on fire at the R Premadasa Stadium and raised hopes of an Australian fightback when he got rid of opener Mohammad Hafeez in the third over but his haul of four for 28 could not prevent Pakistan from cruising to victory with 54 balls to spare.
 
Abdul Razzaq (20 not out) finished off match in style by slamming spinner Jason Krezja for two consecutive fours to end on 20 not out. Pakistan finished on 178-6.

"We certainly had a tough game today. We didn't do ourselves any favours. I thought our batting effort was particularly ordinary," said Ponting, who suffered his first World Cup defeat as captain.

"We stuck at it really well with the ball. I thought the guys bowled really well and gave ourselves a bit of a sniff when we got them six down but not enough runs on the board."

Saturday's result threw the tournament wide open as there is no undefeated team left in the competition heading into next week's knockout stage.

Australia had already qualified for the quarter-finals but will now finish third in the group rather than top, a place now occupied by Pakistan.

'Good plans'
 
Asked to reveal how his team gave Australia their first World Cup defeat since 1999, Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi said: "We made some good plans against these guys and I think the boys all stuck to these plans.

"We didn't try to take some wickets early on, we tried to bowl maiden, good overs ... and all the bowlers did a great job. The credit goes to the bowlers."

Umar Akmal, who finished unbeaten on 44, added: "It's a different sort of enjoyment playing against Australia. They may be world champions but there was no pressure on us so we pulled it off today."
 
Ponting's men struggled for momentum throughout their innings after opting to bat first.

Pakistan's pace and spin attack, backed up by sharp fielding, never allowed the Australian batting to settle down.

A 63-run second wicket stand between Brad Haddin (42) and Ponting (19), who failed once again with the bat, was the only notable partnership in the Australian innings.

Michael Clarke (34) and Steve Smith (25) were the only other batsmen to make any worthwhile contributions on a difficult surface that offered spin and some uneven bounce which the Australian batsmen failed to cope with.

Paceman Umar Gul (3-30) bowled superbly with both the new and the old ball for the 1992 champions, who were the last team to defeat Australia in a World Cup match in 1999.

Gul made the first breakthrough by bowling Shane Watson for nine and returned to clean up the tail by taking the wickets of Jason Krezja and Lee.

Source:
Reuters
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