11 February 2015
Clarke celebrates return with big knock
Australia beats UAE easily, Pakistan knocks back England by four wickets in other warm-up game
Michael Clarke celebrated his return with an innings of 64 as Australia beat UAE by 188 runs in Melbourne.
England had huffed and puffed its way to 250, but Pakistan got off to a woeful start, losing Nasir Jamshed and Ahmed Shehzad in the fifth over. With James Anderson and Stuart Broad in charge with the new ball, the runs came at a trickle, and Younis Khan ate up 40 balls for his 19 before Chris Jordan sent him on his way.
Pakistan desperately needed a calm head out in the middle, and its prayers were answered as Misbah strode in at No. 5. Pakistan's top three had crawled at a snail's pace, but after facing just ten balls, Misbah heaved the ball cleanly over the midwicket boundary.
Harris Sohail departed for 33, but Umar Akmal joined Misbah and the two kept England at bay with a 133-run partnership. Early on in Akmal's innings, he tried to charge down the pitch against Jordan, but after a word of admonishment from the captain, he began to play more sensibly.
Akmal was caught behind off Broad for 65, but Misbah continued to motor along even as Sohaib Maqsood (20) played a few adventurous shots. Shahid Afridi then wrapped up the game with consecutive boundaries with seven balls to spare.
That England, batting first, reached 250 was courtesy half-centuries from Joe Root (85) and Gary Ballance (57). Moeen Ali fell cheaply, offering a simple catch to cover, and thereafter Alex Hales and Ballance were more circumspect.
Hales fell for 31, but Ballance found good support from Root and the pair began to rebuild the innings. While Root looked relatively at ease against the spinners, Ballance took his time settling down.
However, Ballance fell to Yasir Shah soon after reaching his fifty. Pakistan doesn’t have Saeed Ajmal and Junaid Khan to fall back on in the World Cup, but if England was expecting the bowling attack to possess less bite, it was mistaken. Shah, the legspinner winkled out Eoin Morgan for a duck and Ravi Bopara for 11 to leave England floundering. Root and Jordan (31 not out) steered the side to 250, but it proved a few runs short of a challenging total.
To review the England v Pakistan match in full, please click here.
In the other warm-up game, Clarke's return to the side was likely the biggest positive for Australia as it cruised to a huge victory against UAE. There was plenty of talk in the media about Clarke's fitness, or lack thereof, in the build up to the tournament, but he responded to his critics with the bat, top scoring with 64 as Australia piled up 304 for 8. Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Xavier Doherty grabbed two wickets each as UAE was bowled out for 116.
A 305-run target was never going to be easy for UAE, but the writing on the wall was plain to see by the 13th over itself. UAE was 43 for 4 at that stage, and couldn't arrest the slide once it began. Swapnil Patil top scored with 31, one of four batsmen to reach double digits, as the side folded in 30.1 overs.
Clarke didn't hesitate to bat first after winning the toss at Melbourne Cricket Ground. He opened the batting, in place of David Warner, who was rested for the game, and though he looked a bit scratchy at the start, the runs soon started flowing from his blade. Aaron Finch (61) and Clarke both hit half-centuries but after a 123-run opening stand, the pair fell in quick succession to Nasis Aziz.
Though Shane Watson (34) didn't last long, Steve Smith and George Bailey came together for a 67-run partnership for the fourth wicket to continue UAE's agony. Aziz picked up his third wicket, trapping Smith in front for 59, while Krishna Chandran snapped up three wickets as well, including that of Bailey (46). But the damage had been done as Australia went past 300.
To review the Australia v United Arab Emirates match in full, please click here.
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