Aussies’ 12- year unbeaten run comes to an end in Sri Lanka
FEISTY opener Brad Haddin was embroiled in a heated altercation with Pakistan players as Australia’s incredible 34-match World Cup unbeaten streak finally came to an end last night.
The in-form Pakistanis gave the defending champions a timely wake-up call in their final group game, winning by four wickets at the R. Premadasa Stadium after rolling Australia for 176 in the 47th over.
B r e t t L e e ( 4 - 2 8 ) b o w l e d magnificently to give Australia hope, but rookie No. 3 Asad Shafiq ( 46) and 20-year-old prodigy Umar A k m a l ( 4 4 n o ) h e l p e d s t e e r Pakistan home with nine overs to spare.
The defeat was a costly one for the Australians, who will face a s u d d e n - d e a t h q u a r t e r - f i n a l against India in Ahmedabad if the powerhouse host country beats the West Indies as expected overnight.
Australia hadn’t been beaten at the World Cup since a 10-run loss to Pakistan in the 1999 tournament and the same nation returned to snap the remarkable run.
But the contest featured some intriguing sub-plots headlined by Haddin’s verbal spat with Younis Khan and struggling skipper Ricky Ponting’s continuing woes with the bat.
Just 24 hours after receiving the backing of selection boss Andrew Hilditch to play on after the World Cup, Ponting again failed to convert a promising start, falling for 19 after snicking a ball to controversial gloveman Kamran Akmal.
And Ponting’s dismissal ignited a fiery riposte from Haddin, who appeared to make contact with rival Khan as the pair argued over P a k i s t a n ’ s d e c i s i o n t o r e f e r Akmal’s catch to the video umpire.
Wicketkeeper Haddin had voiced hi s d i s p l e a s ur e a f t e r Akmal unsuccessfully appealed for a caught behind decision on Ponting, prompting the Pakistan camp to send the matter upstairs.
As the teams awaited a verdict, Haddin and Khan continued their blazing row as Pakistan players circled the Australian gloveman.
When the dust settled, replays showed Ponting got a healthy edge to Mohammad Hafeez’s delivery, vindicating Pakistan’s decision to refer the incident.
The more vexing concern for Australian cricket, however, is the form of their greatest batsman since Bradman.
Arriving at the crease at 1-12 in the fifth over, Ponting had the perfect opportunity to craft a big innings but he was left to rue another frustrating dismissal.