Clarke century puts Australia in final with crushing victory

<preform>Pakistan 163 Australia 167-1</br> <i>Australia win by nine wickets</i></preform>
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The Independent Online

Michael Clarke struck a brilliant century to carry Australia to a nine-wicket VB Series win over Pakistan here yesterday.

Michael Clarke struck a brilliant century to carry Australia to a nine-wicket VB Series win over Pakistan here yesterday.

Clarke, opening in the absence of the rested vice-captain, Adam Gilchrist, hit an unbeaten 103 as Australia easily passed Pakistan's 163 all out to claim their third win in four matches and book their place in the final of the triangular tournament.

Ricky Ponting turned down a number of singles late on so that Clarke could reach three figures but the move almost backfired when the youngster, on 97, lofted Salman Butt straight to deep mid-on where Mohammad Hafeez spilled the catch. Clarke recorded his century, and the winning runs, with his 14th boundary off Azhar Mahmood.

The only man out for Australia was Matthew Hayden, caught at deep midwicket by Naved-ul-Hasan off Abdul Razzaq for 27.

Clarke acknowledged afterwards that he almost threw away his chance of a second one-day international hundred. "I was praying that it wouldn't carry!" he said, describing his lofted shot down the ground.

Australia's bowlers had set up the victory charge by rushing out Pakistan in under 40 overs. The part-time left-arm spinner Darren Lehmann took three wickets, while Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee claimed two each.

Put into bat, Pakistan suffered a dismal start as they slipped to 2 for 2 with Salman Butt and Kamran Akmal the men to go. Only Inzamam-ul-Haq and the all-rounder Shahid Afridi took the fight back to Australia. Inzamam made 50 before he became Lehmann's first victim, while Afridi, who has hit three of the 10 fastest one-day international half-centuries, made 48 off 37 deliveries,with three sixes and three fours.

Australia take on the West Indies in Adelaide on Wednesday in the next match of the series.

PAKISTAN

Salman Butt lbw b McGrath 0

ÝKamran Akmal b Lee 2

Shoaib Malik b McGrath 8

*Inzamam ul-Haq c Clarke b Lehmann 50

Yousuf Youhana c Ponting b Kasprowicz 4

Mohammad Hafeez c Hayden b Watson 13

Abdul Razzaq run out 16

Shahid Afridi st Haddin b Lehmann 48

Azhar Mahmood c Hayden b Lehmann 1

Naved ul-Hasan b Lee 6

Iftikhar Anjum not out 1

Extras (lb4 w10 pens 0) 14

Total (39.2 overs) 163

Fall: 1-2 2-2 3-38 4-44 5-68 6-98 7-103 8-115 9-161

Bowling: McGrath 10 3 18 2; Lee 10 0 54 2; Kasprowicz 5 0 17 1; Watson 7 2 26 1; Lehmann 7.2 0 44 3

AUSTRALIA

M J Clarke not out 103

M L Hayden c Naved-ul-Hasan

b Abdul Raz 27

*R T Ponting not out 17

Extras (b3 lb5 w7 nb5 pens 0) 20

Total 1 wkt (36.2 overs) 167

Fall: 1-79

Did Not Bat: D R Martyn, A Symonds, D S Lehmann, B J Haddin, S R Watson, G D McGrath, M S Kasprowicz.

Bowling: Naved-ul-Hasan 6 0 20 0; Iftikhar Anjum 3 0 22 0; Abdul Razzaq 7 0 43 1; Shahid Afridi 8 0 22 0; Mohammad Hafeez 4 1 17 0; Azhar Mahmood 4.2 2 14 0; Salman Butt 4 0 21 0.

Umpires: D Harper (Aus), R Koertzen (SA).

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