Steve Smith Takes Charge in Canberra
Australia beat Pakistan by 7 wickets, to go one-up in the three-match series, in the first ever T20I played at Manuka Oval, Canberra.
Australia 151/3 (Steve Smith 80*)
Pakistan 150/6 (Iftikhar Ahmed 62*, Babar Azam 50; Ashton Agar 2-23)
Result: Australia won by 7 wickets
A masterly unbeaten 80 off 51 balls by Steven Smith guided his team to the victory post with 9 balls to spare as Pakistan failed to defend an under par total of 150. A one-year ban seems to have rejuvenated this great Australian batsman as he toyed with the opposition bowling to achieve a comfortable win.
Aaron Finch, the home captain was not too displeased to lose the toss and bowl first. Both teams were unchanged after a no result in the opening game of the series at Sydney. Pakistan is just about holding its top ranking in the ICC and desperately needed to see its batting line-up support its captain, Babar Azam. He himself got off to a flyer but lost Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail, both throwing away their wickets. Australia dominated the powerplay as the score stood at 33-2 after 6 overs.
Australia made further inroads with slow left-arm Ashton Agar sending back Mohammad Rizwan and Asif Ali, leaving Pakistan in further difficulties. Asif in particular, having refused a second run to Babar was out to the very next ball slog sweeping. He along with Fakhar is failing to fire, giving the Pakistan management further headache. From 73-4 after 12 overs, the tourists were unlikely to post a winning score on this high-scoring venue.
With so much on his shoulders, Babar with 50 off 38balls was run out going for the second by a brilliant piece of fielding by David Warner from deep mid-wicket. Coming in at number six, Peshawar-born Iftikhar Ahmed played a superb hand with a spirited maiden fifty which came off 29 balls in the over he took 22 runs off paceman Kane Richardson. His unbeaten 62 (34balls, 5 fours, 3 sixes) helped Pakistan to add 53 runs in the last 5 overs, raising the final total to 150-6 off 20 overs.
In the second over, Warner in great touch, smashed four fours off slow left-arm spin off Imad Wasim to give Australia a rapid start. Pakistan hit back by claiming the two openers, Warner and Finch as Australia reached the 50 mark in 6.2 overs. At the half way mark with Steven Smith taking charge, his team was sitting pretty at 86-2 and needing a relatively modest target of 65 runs off 60 balls. Pakistan bowlers desperate for wickets, could not get into the game.
© Cricket World 2019