Having recorded two crushing wins in the tri-nation series, Australia were brought down to earth by a rampant Pakistan side. Asked to bat first, Pakistan team gave itself a great chance of winning by posting 194-7, their highest total against Australia in the T20IS. When it came to defending the total against a formidable opponent, its bowlers and fielders, did not shy away from their role. Pakistan team management played a trump card by unleashing Shaheen Shah Afridi. By claiming the wickets of the in-form Aaron Finch, D’Arcy Short and Glenn Maxwell, the 18-year-old left arm paceman, took the match away from Australia. Despite their best effort they were well behind the required rate and could only muster 149-7, thus losing by 45 runs. Quite a steep margin, in T20 format that will certainly boost the green shirts, ahead of their clash with Australia, in the Final on Sunday.
If Fakhar Zaman is a match-winner at the top of the batting line-up, Asif Ali’s claims as a dangerous player in the death overs, too were proved correct. His clean hitting, included one straight six that soared above the commentary box, making the last over worth 18 runs. Asif’s unbeaten 37 off 18 balls provided the impetus required in the last phase of Pakistan innings.
Australian bowlers were guilty of bowling too short and wide, allowing Pakistan to a galloping to 51-1 in the powerplay overs. Fakhar Zaman’s 73 off 42 balls, included three consecutive boundaries off Stanlake as he set out to express himself in an expansive manner. A natural striker of the ball Fakhar, he favoured the leg-side today and might in the near future challenge for an opening slot in the Test matches too. Some of his stroke play was reminiscent of Aamir Sohail, an aggressive and somewhat under-rated opening batsman of the 1990s. Hussain Talat after knocking 30 off 25 balls had the chance to bat through the innings but was out to an awful shot. At the end of 12 overs Pakistan had reached 103-2 with an aim to at least double that score in the next 8 overs. Australian pacemen, Stanlake and Tye did check their progress through clever change of pace to keep the total below 200.
The dress rehearsal of the Final on Sunday, was played in chilly and overcast condition at Harare Sports Club with pre-match favourite Australian, beaten by a much more fired up Pakistan.
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