30 September 2009

RITZ & BINGA'S NERVES OF STEEL IN A THRILLER!

Well I may have been stating otherwise had we not won this match, but it has given a punch of excitement to the 50-over game. I watched the match and for the first time in a very long time I was unable to sit down due to serious nerves, with my heart-racing and frantically wiping my brow after every delivery bowled. It was a thrilling match and it is no surprise that the TV ratings rocketed in India as they held their hopes for a Pakistani victory. Thankfully Nathan Hauritz and Brett Lee remained composed and tactfully, yet boldly, got us over the finish line with a victory!
There was a close encounter against the Windies last year in the 5 match ODI series, where Shane Watson bowled a brilliant last over but we had already won the series 3-0. It was a close encounter though, and the other that comes to mind was the controversial Test match at the SCG against India in the Border-Gavaskar series where Michael Clarke picked up 3 wickets in the final over which put us at 16-on-the-trott. That was soon put off the trott sadly after a remarkable string of victories came to a close at the WACA in the 3rd Test.
But this game was special as it was in an ICC event where we are not only the defending Champions, but also a side that has been on the receiving end of a 1st round knocked-out in the ICC T20 trophy, two ODI series losses against the Proteas and then the Ashes. So to progress is a positive and while it was by no means a run-chase to be proud of our tail enders did the dirty work needed.

A big congratulations to Mitchell Johnson who picked up his 100th One Day International wicket.
After a heavy-hearted Ashes campaign for Mitch following a dream Test series against the Proteas, it is pleasing to see Mitch reeling back in his lost aura.
From the relatively unknown to most Mitch I saw debut at the end of 2005 in Aussie colours, to becoming one of the most ferocious competitors in Test and One Day cricket (who can break a couple fingers too), it is an achievement to be proud of too see another bowler reach the One hundred wicket mark, who has really built himself into such an entertaining cricketer purely upon his natural game!
The bowlers were the heroes today in the bigger picture as they gave us the best possible chance to reach the semi's, and due the a freakish collapose in our middle-order their efforts could have been painfully worthless.
Binga was awesome! He managed some fast pace off the wicket and economically he was outstanding, especially at the death of the Pakistan innings.
The fielding was energetic with alot of runs cut-off and this factor gave the bowlers added pressure to work with. James Hopes and Mitchell Johnson took skillful catches which required intense judgement and ideally those two wickets of Shahid Afridi and Younis Kahn were crucial. A few of the Pakistani batsmen made some beneficial starts but failed to carry their bats allowing our bowlers a task where they looked to choke the run-rate as opposed to knocking over all 10 wickets.
I really felt that our bowlers did an excellent job to restrict Pakistan to a below par score and Nathan Hauritz and Shane Watson delivered match defining spells of their own.

The batting! Well Michael Hussey deserved Man-of-the-match after a 'flashback in-form Hussey innings' of 64. Back to back fifties for Huss will be giving him the boost in confidence needed to carry on inspiring the middle-order, hopefully, as we near the crucial stages of this tournament. It's important not to forget that his ODI form has been consistent!
Huss is latching onto the strong pull shots and free flowing cover drives with quick action and an energetic presence at the crease. When he plays to his best it is incredible the ripple effect he can generate, but ideally Ricky Ponting needed the same contribution as we all know the impact Punter's batting can have in either ODI's or Test matches! The good news is that Punter's strong form is still there and I'm still really stoked that he's making contributions and playing well.
Tim Paine and Shane Watson are due for a big partnership which will come at the right time! Trust me, if they don't, revert back to this and sledge me but I am really confident that they have alot to add still!
The wicket became a bit of a beast to bat on, and the Pakistani bowlers showed true class in the middle stages of the innings.
They really played well, thinking about it they really blew my mind how they just turned on the engines and cruised through our batsmen to expose out tail-enders.
I won't waste my paragraph writing about how the batsmen made a mess of a basic run-chase as they will already know how the rectify the situation. Always a solution, there's always a solution!
But when Mitchell Johnson was dumbfounded by a sneaky delivery by Ajmal, Nathan Hauritz probably stumbled out onto the Centurion turf trying to understand why the heck was it up to him to save our hopes in reaching the semi-finals!
But he played conservatively, cautiously and even managed a gutsy on-drive to grab himself a boundary adding the worthy recognition Ritz deserves, but often overlooked. But Brett Lee had a superb game and while his batting has probably been a bit touch and go in recent times, his watchfullness for the yorkers and sharp identification for quick singles was what really got us over the line.
A 19 run partnership which shouldn't have occurred in the first place, but it did, was exciting from the 9th wicket pair!Peter Siddle will be sleeping easy tonight knowing he didn't need to step out to determine the fate of the tournament.
Victory in the end and Australia, Pakistan, England or New Zealand will lift the ICC Champions Trophy on Monday! I think we can be honest here that this what not what most of us were expecting the final four to be! The Proteas and India were the most likely favourites to go all the way, but things can turn on you in this game of cricket very, very quickly.

But with the conclusion of a great game of cricket, guess what?
We get to play England, again, for the 8th time in One Day cricket in less than a month! How exciting! No, to be honest I'm bored of England but it's a different tournament and the English squad will be alot more enthusiastic than the deflated ODI side we terminated 6-1.
Time to try do it again to Strauss and company (including their Irish secret weapon).
In the meantime a two day break and if you want to make some predictions, have your rant or just share a though feel free to do so in the comments section.

9 comments:

Sylvester said...

I'll class that as Ponting's failure so he had that now :p Was a poor shot as he looked so comfortable and you don't want to be relying on our middle to lower order. Ferguson is getting bowled a bit of late hope he finds his form again same to for White. Hopes needs to go, his shot was dreadful and thats all he can do when we need someone to stick around. Voges or even Dussey should be a more than capable replacement.

Jawad said...

Sylvester, I think we know Australia's team and management by now and I doubt they will tinker with it now with the semis and final around the corner. No ones seen much of Voges, maybe they should try him out in the semis but i doubt it.

Anyway, Australia is definitely hanging in there by a thread. Another lucky performance by Australia. I think a better bowling performance this time around. The bowlers from both teams had a great day but was terrible for batting.

Australia was looking pretty set but as mentioned before, you never know what Pakistan would do and it turned out to be a great finish and was probably the best match of the tournament so far. Australia was decent throughout, with hussey, looking like his old self, probably not quite there as of yet but still good enough. The middle order, once again, struggled and failed miserably. Australia's been lucky...veerrrry lucky. They should go on and win this cup now. Australia will have both the semi and final being played in the same venue, so they have a good advantage. I'm hoping both semis and the final are similar to this game. If the top order keeps on playing the way they are, there shouldn't be a problem. If England wants to make a match out of it, they really need to get that top order out cheaply because that middle order is wobbly. England will have to play out of their skins to pull off a victory here. I doubt it but anything can happen in this sickly beautiful game!

Finally some good cricket. Time well wasted! :)

Sylvester said...

Agree Jawad I'm not expecting any changes. It would be good if we moved either Ferguson or White to 4 and move Hussey back to 6 so that we have someone to steady the ship if another collapse occurs.

Our big problem is no new bowler bowler especially one that swings it. Lee has lost the art and Siddle has been very average when taking the new ball. He came back well but I wonder how much longer he'll be able to recover after a bad start.

Ian said...

Bollinger alongside Binga and Mitch, no disrespect to Sid's, but I really believe Douggie could be quite a handful on these wickets and has been in SA long enough to be match ready.

As for the batting I think Punter was dreading the collapse after that shot he played. There has been a run of unneccesary dismissals against some average bowling. Hopes' dismissal was a perfect example of lights going out upstairs.
Huss is flexible in the order and I would be inclined to switch him and White around. White seems to relish the chances higher up the order. Fergal just in a minor rut but will work his way of it.
Only selection otherwise would be Adam Voges in for James Hopes, as Watto is doing a similar job to Hopes and if you have Bollinger in there you have the bowling dilemna sorted if the selectors modified the team. Voges can bat from 1 down to 6 or 7 and is a very handy spin bowler, not specialist but a bit like Dussey.

I don't expect any changes though as usual but to me that would be a competitive move: Bolliner in for Sids and Voges in for Hopes, although the thing with both Sids and Catfish is they have the ability to step it up at random. My thoughts anyways on a few changes.
We scraped into the semi's (not that this should overshadow any of our other strong performances...like if we played India I am certain we'd have won, my gut feeling. But with possibly two games to go change may be wise at this stage. It will either work or it won't. You could say the same with a squad that is unchanged. Either way both selection options can win.

Jawad said...

Sylvester, the reason for moving Hussey at 4 is simply because he is the only one good enough to replace Clarke at that position. Although I agree with you, he should be better suited to guide the innings if he was lower down the order because I don't trust that middle order and he would be good to steady the ship if something does go wrong. It seems he is doing well at 4 and I doubt they will change that but it leaves the middle order quite empty if you ask me.

I agree with Ian, I think some of these changes would be a good competitive move and would bring in that element of surprise for atleast, a short while. Although, I'm more then certain that they will stick with the same team. Lets see what happens.

Sylvester said...

I believe White can do the job at 4, if he can average over 50 at 3 he should have no problem doing likewise at 4. Agree we won't change anything especially since Hussey has gone well at 4 but we all knew he would go well when placed anywhere, he could have been at 4 for a long time if we wanted. But we have kept him at 6 to steady the ship and finish an innings. Ferguson and White just aren't there yet.

Marc said...

So gents - did England throw the game against New Zealand to make sure that they didn't potentially face Sri Lanka down the line??

I hope you guys give the poms absolute carrots on Friday and make it 7-1 just to rub their noses in it.

Ian said...

Don't fret Marc. That's the plan. The boys just have to arrive to this game with the aggressive Border like mentality, and play to the strength like they did against India with the batting...if the batting goes off like fireworks we'll win. If our bowlers do the job again our batsmen owe it to them.

It will quite a fight out there for the spot in the final.
I will stay open minded

Sidthegnomenator said...

Sadly, I don't think we are going to make it through to the final but if only we could get knocked out by someone other than England.