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.