Clarke lauds Australia's Sharjah heroics

Updated: September 4, 2012, 3:07 PM IST
Clarke lauds Australia's Sharjah heroics

Sharjah: Captain Michael Clarke on Tuesday praised a professional Australia on foiling Pakistan's bid to win a one-day international series, saying the players were really proud of their performance.

Australia edged out Pakistan by three wickets in a hard-fought third and final match early on Tuesday, preventing their rivals from winning the series for the first time in ten years. Australia won the first match here by four wickets before Pakistan levelled the series with a seven-wicket win in Abu Dhabi.

The victory meant Australia, who had fallen to world number four in one-day rankings, bounced back after their 4-0 thumping by England in a one-day series in July.

"The feeling around the group is great, especially after losing 4-0 to England," said Clarke. "The guys should be really proud of this series. It was a tough victory against a very good one-day team."

Australia successfully chased down a challenging 245-run target on the back of contrasting half-centuries from Michael Hussey (65) and Glenn Maxwell (56 not out), overcoming a serious threat from off-spinner Saeed Ajmal who took 3 for 37.

Australia not only combated the spin well but also the sapping heat and perturbing humidity during all three matches, with the temperature rising to 35-plus even though the start to the matches had been delayed to 6 pm in the evening.

"We worked really hard before coming on this series. We were up in Darwin as a team and worked hard against spin bowling. We found conditions so different to what we tried to prepare for up in Darwin, especially in the heat. I've never played in heat like this, in humidity like this. The most pleasing thing is the whole series was won by the whole team; it wasn't one individual player."

Clarke said the team combination was important. "As captain of this team and the Test team, it's important for me to have a mix of youth and experience. I think that showed. You saw Maxwell, who is young and hasn't played too much cricket go out and play his natural game."

For Pakistan captain Misbah-ul-Haq, it was a third one-day series loss, after going down to England and Sri Lanka. "I think we have to improve in every department of the game, especially we have to find the right combination of fast bowling and also we have to improve our batting and fielding," Misbah said.

Pakistan dropped as many as four catches and a stumping, the most costly of which was Maxwell when dropped by Azhar Ali off paceman Junaid Khan on 34. Pakistan also wasted good starts in batting in the first and third matches.

"At important stages of the game, we collapsed in batting and we have to make good use of batting powerplays," said Misbah, who will not be part of the Twenty20 squad.

Pakistan and Australia play three Twenty20 matches - all in Dubai - on September 5, 7 and 10.

First Published: September 4, 2012, 3:07 PM IST

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