PAKISTAN V AUSTRALIA IN UAE, 2019
Aaron Finch smashed an unbeaten 143-ball 153 as Australia cruised home by eight wickets © AFP
Australia made a huge statement ahead of the World Cup as they took a 2-0 lead in the ODI series against Pakistan in the UAE with another comprehensive victory. Having already secured a series win in India to overturn their slump, Australia put on a clinical display with the bat one more time with the openers putting on 209 for the first wicket. Aaron Finch, who had roared back to form in the first game, got to three figures yet again and remained unbeaten on 155 to see his side home.
Finch was initially subdued to begin with as the first five boundaries of the chase came off the bat off Khawaja. Batting on 7 off 21 at one stage in the powerplay, he fetched his first four when he cut Imad Wasim towards deep backward point. With Khawaja scoring at a strike rate of over 100, Australia managed 48 in the first ten overs.
Finch finally picked up against the pacy debutant Mohammad Hasnain with Khawaja now taking a backseat. The skipper then got to his half-century ahead of his opening partner as the two brought up their century stand. He was severe against the spinners, once fetching two sixes and a four off Yasir Shah and following it up with a four and a six off Imad to completely put his side on top.
At the other end, Khawaja got to a half-century for the fourth time in his last five innings, strengthening his case for a World Cup spot. As the two batsmen continued to milk the bowling attack, Finch got to his 13th hundred off just 97 balls to stamp his authority ahead of the global tournament in England. Pakistan finally struck when Khawaja found the fielder at deep midwicket while attempting a slog sweep. By that time, the chase was almost done and dusted with Australia needing only 76 more runs to win. That became a walk in the park with Finch launching an assault towards the end to register his first 150-plus score in 50-over cricket.
Earlier in the evening, Mohammad Rizwan made complete use of Sarfraz Ahmed’s absence with a well-crafted century at No.4 that helped Pakistan post 284 on the board. Pakistan were pegged back very early in the innings with Jhye Richardson striking twice in the first ten overs, removing both the openers.
Haris Sohail, fresh from his century last game, started off in fine fashion but couldn’t capitalise on the start this time around. Richardson’s injury post his first spell forced Finch to bring himself on and that eventually resulted in the skipper accounting for Sohail’s wicket. Umar Akmal, who had impressed in his comeback game, was the next to go as he mistimed one in tame fashion to the deep midwicket fielder. Pakistan stuttering at this point, were then revived by a century partnership between Rizwan and the skipper Shoaib Malik.
The veteran was busy at the wicket and was aggressive against the spinners in particular. After picking up a six off Nathan Lyon, Malik pushed his strike rate beyond 100 by fetching a boundary off Adam Zampa. Rizwan at the other end played the ideal foil as the duo slowly put Pakistan in command. Malik then targetted the 38th over bowled by Glenn Maxwell by smashing the offspinner for four successive boundaries. After 40 overs, Pakistan were ideally placed for a final onslaught having already put up 211 runs on the board.
While Malik got to his fifty, Rizwan too went on to reach his maiden hundred in the format. Unfortunately for Pakistan, both batsmen failed to get the big hits coming in the death overs with Australia getting rid of them at the right time. A little cameo from Imad guided Pakistan to a similar score they posted in the opening ODI, but once again it proved to be short, just like it was the case two days ago.
Brief scores: Pakistan 284/7 in 50 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 115, Shoaib Malik 60; Jhye Richardson 2-16) lost to Australia 285/2 in 47.5 overs (Aaron Finch 153*, Usman Khawaja 88; Yasir Shah 1-60) by 8 wickets