Pakistan strangle Australia to win the T20 Series in Dubai
Ever since Pakistan defended a total of 140 against the all-conquering West Indies, at Adelaide in December 1981, they have thrilled world cricket, in low-scoring limited-overs internationals.
Pakistan 147-6 (Babar Azam 45, Mohammad Hafeez 40; Nathan Coulter-Nile 3-18)
Australia 136-8 (Glenn Maxwell 52, Nathan Coulter-Nile 27; Shadab Khan 2-30, Shaheen Afridi 3-35
Result – Pakistan won by 11 runs
Pakistan seemed to have produced bowlers, both slow and fast, to claim countless victories, in these ‘heart stoppers’. In simple words, you get your money’s worth, when Pakistanis come out with that do-or-die spirit. Tonight in Dubai, their total of 147-6 proved enough to beat Australia by 11 runs and thus seal the T20 series in the UAE. Even a hard-hitting 52 off 37 balls with four fours and two sixes from Glenn Maxwell, was not quite enough to stop Pakistan.
It is not often Pakistan starts a cricket contest, with Australia, as favourites. Well tonight, in the second T20 of the three-match series in Dubai, that was the case. Australia was being asked to bounce back, after a humiliating defeat in the first match in Abu Dhabi whereas Sarfraz Ahmed’s Pakistan side, much more balanced and indeed buoyant, was aiming for its tenth successive T20 series win, against all countries.
A win today for Pakistan would seal the outcome of the series against the opposition, who for various reasons, have not been able to put a great show in UAE. Justin Langer, a formidable Australian batsman of his time, has had a tough baptism as the Head Coach. Since taking charge, earlier this year, he has seen Australia take a hammering in ODIs in England, followed by an average tour of Zimbabwe. Now he would be looking to skipper Aaron Finch and all-rounder Maxwell, two match-winners, to lead from the front and keep their side in the series. As their side had bowled well to restrict Pakistan to 155 in 20 overs in Abu Dhabi, Australia resisted the temptation to look at Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc or Peter Siddle.
The availability of Shoaib Malik, returning to the squad after a short paternity leave, was a welcome ‘headache’ for the team management as he was included, at the expense of Hussain Talat, from a winning Pakistan side. Shoaib married Indian tennis star Sania Mirza in April 2010 and now the couple have been blessed with a baby boy.
Friday 8pm start in Dubai was set to be a full house as Pakistan captain Sarfraz, chose to bat first. A positive start of 29 in 3.5 overs - by Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam, did include quick singles and an odd boundary. Babar, in good touch of late, was partnered by Mohammad Hafeez, as the first half of the Pakistan innings produced 69 runs. With wickets in hand, both batsmen upped the gear and explored aerial options, with an aim to get close to the 200 mark. Hafeez dropped at long on off Adam Zampa, the wrist spinner, batted well for his 40 off 33 balls which included 2 sixes and was the second wicket to fall at 99.
The hundred was reached in 14.1 overs. Zampa only conceded 21 runs in his 4 overs restricting Pakistan’s total to 104 in 15 overs. There was also assistance for the slow left-arm wrist spin of D’Arcy Short, as he dismissed Babar (45 off 44 balls) in the 16th over. Pakistan had not been allowed to hit boundaries today and the run-rate very occasionally went above 7 runs per over. 117-4 in 17 overs was due to superb control shown by Australian bowlers. Pakistan did not capitalize on a good start and were perhaps a bit too cautious during the Babar-Hafeez stand, leaving the middle order to take too many risks. Left-handed Faheem Ashraf’s 17 off 10 balls took the final score to 147, a fighting total on a sluggish wicket.
With an asking rate of 7.4 runs an over from the outset, Australia needed to be wary of Pakistan spinners on Dubai wicket. A cautious start turned into a poor one as Imad Wasim, with figures of 18.104.22.168 and a controversial run out of Short to his name had reduced Australia to 19-2 after 5 overs. An ideal bowler in these conditions in the Powerplay, he returned to bowl his last over and finished with the figures 22.214.171.124 and Australia were on 45-3 after 9 overs, facing an uphill task. At the half way stage Australia were 53-3 and limped to 78-6 after 15 overs, with the game slipping out of reach. 43 runs off the last 3 overs and 23 off the last over bowled by Shaheen Afridi, even with Maxwell at the crease, was beyond Australia and so it proved.
Pakistan - Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi
Australia - Aaron Finch(c), D'Arcy Short, Chris Lynn, Glenn Maxwell, Ben McDermott, Mitchell Marsh, Alex Carey(wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Adam Zampa, Andrew Tye, Billy Stanlake
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