World XI score narrow victory

While it was not a match of die-hard competitiveness, contested at the low-capacity Junction Oval in Melbourne with 13 players on each side, Victoria showed their spirit and desire to win as they challenged the star-studded World XI side and looked likely victors on several occasions.

The teams agreed that the World XI team would bat first without the need for a toss, and on a sedate pitch Sangakkara and Sehwag began things well with a half-century opening stand. It was an unlikely hero for Victoria in Shane Harwood who turned the match on its head with a superb spell of bowling, though. Harwood was far from the biggest star at the ground, with a First Class average in the 30s and limited experience at the highest domestic level, but he took four scalps any bowler would be proud of, dismissing Sehwag, Kallis, Lara and Pietersen in quick succession as the stunned World side slipped to 5/107, with the run rate in decline and the deep batting being tested. Victorian captain Cameron White then introduced himself to the attack and bowled Shahid Afridi, and 10 wickets inside 50 overs seemed a likely possibility.

Rahul Dravid remained at the crease however, and with Harwood’s accurate spell finally ending he joined Chris Gayle to salvage the World XI innings. They added 64 runs for the 7th wicket, setting the stage for an explosive finish before White had Gayle stumped. The World XI captain Shaun Pollock then joined Dravid and punished the Victorian bowlers, smashing an unbeaten 54 in just 38 deliveries to push the score up to 281. Pollock had a stroke of luck when he was caught by David Hussey only to have the fielder step on the rope and the shot declared a six, but he made the most of it and set up a total that few teams could chase against such a strong bowling attack.

However, Victoria’s spirited resistance continued with the bat, as they mounted a strong challange in the final overs to the large target. They were undaunted by the World XI spinners in particular, with neither Muralitharan or Vettori managing to keep the runs down. Shoaib Akhtar was the main weapon for the World XI side, unlucky to take only the two wickets in his 10 economical overs, but an anchoring innings by Brad Hodge was the dominant performance of the second innings. He came in after an early wicket and added 89 runs with Klinger, and then forged valuable stands with David Hussey and Cameron White as the Victorians laid the foundations for a late push at the total. In the end, wickets fell a bit too regularly as the innings progressed, with Muralitharan’s dismissal of White particularly costly for the Victorian team, and while Hodge’s big hitting got them close, his dismissal at the hands of Muralitharan ensured that Victoria would not quite reach the total.

Score Summary
ICC World XI 281/8 (50)
Rahul Dravid 66 (70), Shaun Pollock 54* (38)
Shane Harwood 4/37 (10), Cameron White 2/49 (10)

Victoria 269/9 (50)
Brad Hodge 92 (116), Michael Klinger 62 (80)
Shoaib Akhtar 2/29 (10), Jacques Kallis 2/34 (6)

ICC World XI win by 12 runs.

CricketWeb Player of the Match
Brad Hodge (Victoria) – 92 (116) and 0/24 (3)

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