Clarke bowled over by 'neutral' Edgbaston

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Beaten Australia Twenty20 captain Michael Clarke said there was nothing 'neutral' about the support Pakistan had received from a capacity Edgbaston crowd.

Updated: July 06, 2010 17:00 IST
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Beaten Australia Twenty20 captain Michael Clarke said there was nothing 'neutral' about the support Pakistan had received from a capacity Edgbaston crowd on Monday.

Australia lost the first of two Twenty20 internationals against Pakistan -- the second is at Edgbaston on Tuesday - by 23 runs amidst a din of horns and chants from flag-waving Pakistan supporters.

These matches -- and two Tests between the teams at Lord's and Headingley later this month -- were due to be played in Pakistan.

But last year's terror attack on the Sri Lanka team bus in Lahore made Pakistan a 'no-go' area for international cricket and they have been forced to play their home matches abroad.

However, with Birmingham boasting one of the largest Asian populations in England, they did not lack for support on Monday.

"It would be amazing to see Pakistan versus England out here," Clarke told reporters. "You wouldn't get many England supporters.

"It was full of Pakistan supporters.

"I think it's great for Pakistan cricket, I think it's really encouraging we are still getting the chance to play against them and the support Pakistan received today has been fantastic. Hopefully, a few more Aussies will turn out tomorrow (Tuesday)."

Pakistan, for whom victory represented their first win in 13 matches against Australia in all formats, were in dire straits at 47 for four after captain Shahid Afridi, who won the toss, was out for a duck.

But thanks to 20-year-old batsman Umar Akmal's Twenty20 international best 64 they rallied to 167 for eight.

Pakistan, who lost a thrilling World Twenty20 semi-final to Australia in the Caribbean in May, then bowled Australia out for 144 with off-spinner Saeed Ajmal taking three wickets for 26 runs and 18-year-old left-arm fast bowler Mohammad Aamer three for 27.

Having managed to lose repeatedly to Australia when well-placed - in the World Twenty20 semi-final they were in a seemingly impregnable position before Michael Hussey's unbeaten 60 rescued the Aussies - here they held their nerve.

Crucially, paceman Umar Gul, who missed the World Twenty20 through injury, was back to take two wickets for just 13 runs in three overs, including the prize scalp of left-hander Michael Hussey, bowled for 18.

"We were a little bit disappointing with the bat and Umar Gul bowled really well at the death and Ajmal is always hard at the death as well, he spins the ball both ways," Clarke said.

"Hopefully we can build a few more partnerships earlier on in Tuesday's game and when the spinners come on we've got batters who are in.

"That might put a bit more pressure on the spinners and it might make the bowl Umar Gul a little bit earlier as well. We lost wickets at crucial times."

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