Cricket: UAE tour review

After Australia’s ordinary one-day series against England in June several changes were made for the 4 ODI’s against Afghanistan and Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Mike Hussey returned after missing the UK tour due to the birth of his 4th child. Dan Christian, Callum Ferguson, Mitch Starc and first time Australian selection Glenn Maxwell were added in place of the injured Pat Cummins, the rested Ben Hilfenhaus, the retired Brett Lee and the omitted Peter Forrest. And later on Alistair McDermott, son of Craig with an identical bowling action and matching red hair, came in as a late replacement for Clint McKay who was injured in the pre-tour camp in Darwin. With both Pakistan and Afghanistan unable to host matches due to security reasons all matches would be held in the United Arab Emirates. But due to the extreme heat in this part of the world at this time of the year the games started at 6pm local time, ending somewhere near 2am.

Afghanistan v Australia Only ODI at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium

Australia 8/272 (Matthew Wade 75, Michael Clarke 75, Mike Hussey 49) def.

Afghanistan 206 (Asghar Stanikzai 66, Mohammed Nabi 46, Mitchell Starc 4/47, James Pattinson 3/46)

An historic game with Afghanistan facing Australia for the first time, as well as being just the second time they have played a Test playing nation in a One-Day International (ODI) after their meeting with Pakistan earlier this year. This match was being played at the venue that has hosted more ODI’s than any other in the world, this being Sharjah’s 206th match, ahead of the SCG in second place with 140 matches and the MCG in third place with 134. Glenn Maxwell made his debut, becoming Australia’s 196th ODI player and wearing the number 28 most notably worn by Matthew Hayden.

Batting first Australia made 8/272 in the 38 degree heat. Wade and Clarke both worked hard to make 75 each, while Mike Hussey was at his best to finish the innings off with 49 off 37 balls. While their figures were not great the Afghani opening bowlers Shapoor Zadran (2/60 off 8 overs) and Dawlat Zadran (0/53 off 10) were impressive and bowled sharply. And Afghanistan were missing their best fast bowler Hamid Hassan who was out injured.

In reply the Afghani’s were all out for 206 in the 43rd over. Asghar Stanikzai was very solid in making 66, while Mohammed Nabi looked a bit like Shahid Afridi in his innings of 46 which included 4 sixes. Mitchell Starc with 4/47 and James Pattinson with 3/46 were the best of the bowlers. Johnson took 2 wickets but lacked zip in his bowling.

Pakistan v Australia 1st ODI at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium

Pakistan 198 (Asad Shafiq 56, Umar Akmal 52, Mitchell Starc 5/42, James Pattinson 3/19) lost to

Australia 6/199 (Michael Clarke 66, George Bailey 57*, Glenn Maxwell 38, Saeed Ajmal 3/30)

Young quicks Starc and Pattinson ran through Pakistans line up on a bouncy Sharjah pitch. Bailey very impressive in getting the tourists over the line with a disiplined innings. Clarke batted solidly and Maxwell added punch in the latter stages of the innings.

2nd ODI v Pakistan Sheik Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi

Australia 9/248 (Mike Hussey 61, George Bailey 39, Saeed Ajmal 4/32) lost to

Pakistan 3/249 (Nasir Jamshed 97, Azhar Ali 59*)

Australia totally bamboozled by Pakistan’s spinners. Saeed Ajmal at his brilliant Doosra bowling best. Not enough runs to defend on a belter of a pitch. The decision to leave Doherty out and not play a frontline spinner baffling.

3rd  ODI v Pakistan at Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium

Pakistan 7/244 (Mohammed Hafeez 78, Nasir Jamshed 48, Mitchell Starc 4/51)  lost to

Australia 7/250 (Mike Hussey 65, Glenn Maxwell 56*, David Hussey 43, Saeed Ajmal 3/37)

Australia wins series 2/1

Very good effort by the Aussie batsmen in chasing down Pakistan’s score. Mike Hussey played like a genius until a horrible swipe across the line saw him clean bowled. His brother David made an impressive 43 opening. And Glenn Maxwell got the team over the line with a swashbuckling and at times risky 56 not out of 38 balls.

Very good series win by Australia over the highly rated but full of no names Pakistan team. Solid win over an impressive Afghanistan, who like Ireland deserve to play more games against the top teams. Both are better than Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Watson will come back into this team and maybe Cummins. Doherthy needs to come back in, we won’t get away with part time spinners on a regular basis.

Player Ratings:

9- Mitchell Starc- Breakout series for the NSW left arm quick. Good movement and bounce from his height. Must be played regulary now.

8.5-Mike Hussey- Two brilliant half centuries against Pakistan as well a hard hitting 49 against Afghanistan. Showing no sign of ageing in the ODI format

8- James Pattinson- Back to his best and at full pace after his lacklusture series in the UK. Genuine threat with the new ball.

8-Michael Clarke- The move to number 3 was the right one. Always looked solid with the bat, captained well and handy with the ball. Spectacular catch at mid-wicket against Afghanistan. Really should be batting at 3 in the test team as well instead of hiding at number 5.

7-George Bailey- Solid throughout, was a captains like knock in the first ODI against Pakistan when his unbeaten 57 got the Aussies over the line. Brilliant fielder. Don’t be surprised when he is made vice-captain of the ODI team. Probably soon.

7-Glenn Maxwell- Struggled on  his ODI debut against Afghanistan but made up for it with scores of 38, 28 and 56* against Pakistan. Pontentially a very damaging player on the International stage. His bowling, while a handy 2nd or 3rd spin bowling option, is a long way off being a frontline spin option at  international level.

6-Matthew Wade- Gutsy innings in the heat against Afghanistan, only fair against Pakistan. Keeping was very good throughout.

5.5-David Hussey- Best innings was his 43 when elevated to open in the 3rd ODI. Otherwise patchy. Handy with his off-spinners and brilliant in the field. At his age needs to perform well in every series.

5-David Warner- Despite being a wonderful Twenty20 player and doing well at Test level he battles at ODI level. Will probably be given more chances but the pressure is on with Watson to come back and Rob Quiney pushing hard for a place after his great form of the last 3 years.

5-Xavier Doherty- After a solid performance against Afghanistan it is an absolute mystery to me why Doherty was ignored for the Pakistan series. The team looked unbalanced without a frontline spinner.

4.5-Mitchell Johnson- Not terrible but not great. Bowled a good line and length for the most part but lacked zip and wasn’t threatening enough. International career hanging by a thread with Starc now a superior left armer.

3.5-Dan Christian- Lucky to be recalled to the team. Didn’t make the most of his time as Watson’s replacement. Next time an all-rounder is required the much more talented Mitchell Marsh must be picked.

*Callum Ferguson and Alastair McDermott were not selected during this tour.

Up next for Australia is 3 Twenty20 Internationals against Pakistan all in Dubai, then the 2012 Twenty20 world cup in Sri Lanka.



About Luke Reynolds

Cricket and Collingwood tragic. Twitter: @crackers134

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