BRISBANE // Friday's opening one-day international at the Gabba had all the trademarks of a classic, leaving Australia skipper Ricky Ponting to praise the batting efforts of his side after they rallied to chase down Pakistan's target of 275. Although the hosts won by five wickets, Ponting said the victory was made to look more comfortable than it was thanks to some important partnerships that featured the centurion Cameron White. "We did a reasonable job I guess right the way through the game, coming straight out of Test cricket and into one-day cricket always takes a bit of adjustment," said Ponting. "I think overall tonight our bowling skills were pretty good right the way through and certainly the majority of our batters were very good tonight, it's always good to get off to a good start like that in a five-game series."
Losing three early wickets to the Pakistan quick bowlers, Australia looked in real trouble after 18 overs as they sat precariously on 84 for three with Shane Watson (five), Shaun Marsh (15) and Ponting (27) all making their way back to the pavilion. But a controlled 100-run partnership between White and Michael Clarke (50) steadied the Australian innings with White going on to make his second ODI century and equal his highest score with a superb knock of 105 coming from 85 deliveries. The pair's mature ability to work the ball around the field was instrumental in Australia's recovery and White's skill to read the game caught the eye of Ponting who said that knowing when to accelerate the run rate proved a decisive moment in the game.
"That's one thing you know he's going to do, he does see the game really well and even the way I think the partnership developed with him and Michael Clarke tonight, holding back the power play the way they did and knowing the right time to put the foot down that was the thing that really stood out from the sidelines," Ponting said. White turned the match on its head and sent the crowd into rapture when he unleashed on the spinner Shahid Afridi, hitting three sixes in a row, two over mid-wicket and one straight over the long-on fence with nine overs left in the innings. After the match the Victorian all-rounder said he knew he had to score runs on home soil after proving himself overseas with strong performances in England, India and the Champions Trophy in South Africa last year. "I kind of thought about that coming into this series, it's pleasing to be able to show the people and teammates that I can score runs in Australia," White said.
"I'm happy that we won and I contributed well to the team, it's a good feeling and I enjoyed it. "I probably know my role a bit better and I had it set in my mind to be positive throughout this series, because probably in the past when I've played in Australia I haven't been as positive as what I would have liked to have been when I've gone into bat." In a clash that featured many impressive individual performances, the crowd of 19,758 certainly got its money's worth as it was entertained from start to finish. However, the turnout was the Gabba's lowest ODI total since Australia played England in January 1999 when the ground was being redeveloped ? a far cry from the highest attendance of 39,874 which came in 2006 when Australia clashed with South Africa.
When asked about the crowd, Ponting believed that the low figure could almost be predicted but said he thought the next game in Sydney on Sunday would give a better understanding of where the 50-over game stands in light of the Twenty20 phenomenon. "We've played some incredible one-day games, when you have those sort of runs scored and you see so many individual innings and performances that happened tonight, if that keeps happening then I don't think anyone will be talking down the 50-over game," Ponting said. "You could almost predict that was going to be the case tonight. With the amount of cricket that's been played in Queensland over the last week, people have only got a certain amount of money to spend to come and watch a game. "I think that's got a lot to do with it and if you're actually looking at a spectacle, tonight was a great spectacle. "I think Sydney will be pretty much sold out and in Adelaide you always get good attendances, so I think the next couple of games will tell a truer story than what this one will." * PA Sport