Rain stops play as groundsmen cover the pitch during the International T20 match between Australia and Pakistan at the SCG. Picture: Brett Costello
Rain stops play as groundsmen cover the pitch during the International T20 match between Australia and Pakistan at the SCG. Picture: Brett Costello

Umpires cost Aussies shot at No.1 ranking

Cricket embarrassed itself at the SCG  on Sunday night as match officials failed the common sense test and cost Australia a shot at going No.1 in the world.

Australia only needed to face another 11 balls for a match to be constituted in the rain-affected T20 opener against Pakistan, and when play was abandoned umpires only had themselves to blame, having earlier allowed 10 minutes of clear weather to needlessly disappear into thin air.

Under the laws of the game, officials could have used their discretion to take into account the 80 minute rain delay that had just gone as well as the threat of more inclement weather to come and reduced the innings break from 20 minutes to 10.

But they refused, and players sat around while fans watched grass grow - all while the skies were clear.

In the end that was all that stopped Australia being able to bat the five overs required to force an official result - one that Aaron Finch had already guaranteed would have gone in their favour, after the skipper slaughtered Pakistan's 216cm giant Mohammad Irfan for 26 runs in the third over.

International cricket's farcical inability to get on the field and give fans bang for their buck is sadly an all-too-common event, but the punters weren't the only victims on Sunday night, with it now mathematically impossible for Australia to jump up to the top of the T20 rankings.

Two games left in Canberra on Tuesday and Perth on Friday won't be enough to knock Pakistan off the perch on the table.

Babar Azam played a superb unbeaten knock for Pakistan. Picture: Dan Himbrechts
Babar Azam played a superb unbeaten knock for Pakistan. Picture: Dan Himbrechts

Mark Waugh summed it up best in his Fox Cricket commentary, describing the lack of feel from match officials as "stupid."

Australian vice-captain Alex Carey said the team did have a discussion with umpires about the length of the innings break, but officials were unmoved.

"Yeah we asked the question what the changeover would have been and it remains the same," said Carey.

"We were aware of that and we obviously can't change that.

"The boys did a great job of going out and getting a really good start. Shame it was probably five minutes too late.

"It's disappointing to be so close to what might have been but it's part of the game." 

AARON VERSUS GOLIATH

Australia were set 119 to win off 15 overs in the rain-affected match, when Finch came out swinging, smashing an unbeaten 37 off 16 balls in the 3.1 overs his side had at the crease before the game was abandoned.

Had the innings got to five overs and therefore declared an official game, Australia's 0-41 would have already been enough for victory (target would have been 39 off five).

Finch whacked the tallest player in the history of cricket - Irfan - for a boundary first ball, but it was in the third over when he really wound up, hammering three sixes and two fours in a brutal display of big hitting.

At the other end David Warner only ended up facing four balls for two runs, but he remains undefeated in four matches of Twenty20 cricket - with only two innings to go to last two series without being dismissed.

Mitchell Starc impressed with the new ball. Picture: Mark Metcalfe
Mitchell Starc impressed with the new ball. Picture: Mark Metcalfe

AZAM

Pakistan appeared destined to lose the match if it had gone the distance, but at least they turned up to play.

He may not share their profile, but there are plenty of good judges around world cricket who rate Pakistan captain Babar Azam in the same stratosphere as Steve Smith, Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson.

Azam laid down a marker for the Test summer to come at the SCG, with a classy knock of 59 not out off 38 balls which summoned more fight and fire than Sri Lanka's entire team could muster in three matches.

Still developing at 25 years of age, Azam has yet to make a Test hundred in five matches against Australia, but he has starred down under in a previous one-day tour and many feel this could be his season to shine.

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