Crowd-pleaser Aamer gives Pakistan second quick win

Pakistan 162-9 Australia 151 <i>(Pakistan win by 11 runs)</i>
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The Independent Online

Amid a a cacophony of noise which promises to be the jubilant backdrop of the English summer, Pakistan once more delighted their army of followers last night. For the second Twenty 20 match in two days they outsmarted Australia, winning this time by 11 runs.

If they can repeat their form in the longest version of the game, a dubious proposition at present, they should be a handful to all who come across them in the next two months. Whatever happens, their victories in Birmingham should encourage their fervent support at least to attend the two Test matches against Australia and the four against England.

Australia played like a team still coming to terms with the principles of Twenty20, not like the beaten world finalists of barely a month ago. Perhaps they have yet to embrace it fully, but opponents Pakistan must have been lifted by the support they received in a half-built Edgbaston. Stentorian in their approach for most of the proceedings, they turned down the volume only at those moments when things were not going according to plan, and that did not happen often. They look as if they have a team again and in 18-year-old Mohammad Aamer, who took 3 for 27 from four overs, they may have a new star fast bowler.

Pakistan paced their innings well after again winning the toss. The top score in their innings was 31 but five players made 18 or more, which is not a bad way to construct an innings in the shortest form of the game.

At the top of the order, Salman Butt played pleasantly enough and the Akmal brothers, Kamran and Umar, stamped their mark on events as usual. Dirk Nannes, once of Holland but as Australian as a wombat, bowled with real skill to help stop any batsman settling for too long.

Australia lost three early wickets. Two fell to the effusive Mohammad Aamer and when Michael Clarke chopped on the bowler was so pleased that he inadvertently ran into the departing batsman.

Although Australia recovered partially from these early setbacks, the situation ensured that they could ill afford to shed any more wickets. Shahid Afridi put paid to their drip-drip accumulation with two quick wickets in the middle of the innings, a stumping and a catch in the outfield.

Michael Hussey, Australia's usual saviour in such circumstances, could not come to the rescue as Umar Gul fired one in to beat his attempted switch hit. Aamer returned for his third wicket and the match ended in the 20th over when the pursuit had become forlorn.

It will be so much different when these two sides meet again in the first of two Test matches beginning at Lord's next week. Australia will be more hard-nosed, more disciplined. But this was the start that Pakistan would have desired.