| Ricky Ponting with the trophy after Australia beat Pakistan by 17 runs in the tri-series final in Amstelveen on Saturday. (AP)
Australia revealed their true character when they romped home in the final stretch in the tri-series title match against Pakistan on Saturday. The world champions played their cards right at every stage of the game on a seemingly unpredictable wicket. To be able to adapt to prevailing conditions is the sign of a champion side.
The tournament got marred by rain and gave little time to organisers to prepare the wickets. One could see dust popping up on almost every delivery right from the first over. But despite such unfavourable conditions, the Australians carried on with their job in an absolutely professional manner.
The wicket was at its worst in the first half of the game. Matthew Hayden took the responsibility and soon realised that staying at the wicket would be the key.
While Hayden rallied the innings at one end, others tried to chance their arms and take away as much as possible off the Pakistan attack. Every batsman looked scratchy as the wicket offered very little for stroke making. But survival was the need of the hour.
Andrew Symonds is a wonderful player of spin bowling. Yesterday, he changed gears with his improvised shots. After Haydenís dismissal, it was the turn of Darren Lehman and Symonds to really turn the heat on Pakistan.The run out of in-form Shoaib Malik was one of the high points of the match as Youhana and he were engaged in building up the innings.
Pakistani bowlers failed to make the most of it when the wicket was really soft in the early part of the innings. Shoaib Akthar seemed to have lost his sting somehow. Considering the nature of the wicket and his threatening pace, even the Aussies should have shuddered to face Akthar on such a track. But to my surprise, Akthar appeared to be the most innocuous among the Pakistani bowlers. The speedster is having an ordinary run for a long time.
The game got tighter in the end as Pakistani batsmen showed character. Yousuf Youhana, who was doing well, was unlucky to have been judged caught behind off Brad Hogg.
Under their new coach Bob Woolmer, Pakistan have made some definite progress. The PCBís ability to deviate from conventional methods and bring in a foreign coach with proven track record has paid rich dividends. (PTI)