PAKISTAN TOUR OF AUSTRALIA, 2019
Mitchell Starc dealt Pakistan an early blow by trapping Babar Azam. © Getty
Australia have been invincible in the home summer so far. They crushed Sri Lanka 3-0 and have now followed it up with a comfortable 2-0 T20I series win against Pakistan. The hosts could have even won 3-0 but rain saved Pakistan in the first T20I at the SCG. In the final game in Perth, Australian fast bowlers used the extra pace and bounce on offer to leave Pakistan in all kinds of problems. Once the visitors were restricted to a paltry 106 for 8 in their allotted 20 overs, David Warner and Aaron Finch put on another master-class at the top of the order to seal the deal and ensured Australia would remain unbeaten in T20Is in the calendar year.
Starc – The white ball king
With the white ball in hand, Mitchell Starc has consistently been outstanding. The left-arm pacer bowled an incisive spell up front to leave Pakistan in tatters. He began with an inswinging yorker to Babar Azam, which the Pakistan skipper just about managed to keep it out. However, Starc soon sent Pakistan’s mainstay back to the hut with another inswinger that moved late to trap Azam. The Pakistan batsman placed his belief in the review but to no avail.
After the initial hammer blow, Pakistan lost another wicket the very next ball, with Starc shattering the stumps of Mohammad Rizwan via another of his customary inswingers. For the umpteenth time in his limited overs career, Starc had given Australia the perfect start.
Pakistan’s inability to counter pace and bounce
After Starc’s early burst, the trio of Kane Richardson, Sean Abbott and Billy Stanlake took over by employing the short ball tactic judiciously to keep the opposition in check. The likes of Imam-ul-Haq, Imad Wasim, Kushdil Shah, the debutant, and the impressive Iftikhar fell to the short ball strategy. The track offered decent pace and bounce, and Pakistan’s batsmen just couldn’t execute horizontal-bat shots.
The lone bright spot
Iftikhar, who impressed in the second T20I, put on another exhibition of sparkling strokeplay. The way he drove and flicked Starc early on in his innings gave a glimpse of the middle-order batsman’s potential. Unfortunately, for the visiting side, he couldn’t get the required support from the rest of the batsmen and eventually, he perished in the 17th over for 45.
Warner, Finch and fireworks
With a modest target to chase, the duo of Warner and Finch scorched the Perth stadium with a string of shots. Cuts, pulls and lofts – the pair sent Pakistan’s fielders on a leather hunt. The young pace duo of Mohammad Hasnain, on his T20I debut, and Muhammad Musa, the tearaway, bowled a touch too short and were punished. Mohammad Amir also came in for some punishment. In the end, it has to be said Pakistan’s bowlers had too much to do after their batsmen let the team down. Finch hit the winning runs with a boundary off Musa.
Brief scores: Pakistan 106/8 in 20 overs (Iftikhar Ahmed 45; Kane Richardson 3-18, Sean Abbott 2-14, Mitchell Starc 2-29) lost to Australia 109/0 in 11.5 overs (David Warner 48*, Aaron Finch 52*) by 10 wickets.