Wednesday July 06, 2022

Imam’s ton goes in vain as Australia beat Pakistan by 88 runs

March 30, 2022
Imam’s ton goes in vain as Australia beat Pakistan by 88 runs

LAHORE: Pakistan stumbled to a 10th straight defeat to Australia after they lost the first one-dayer of the three-match ODI series by 88 runs here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday night.

Pakistan opener Imam-ul-Haq’s century went in vain as their innings folded at 225 in 45.2 overs. Australia, after being put in to bat first by captain Babar Azam, managed to amass a decent total of 313 for seven in the allotted 50 overs. The side, however, lost their way in the middle of the innings despite having a fine start.

Travis Head, who also snared two wickets, with his rapid-fire century and Ben McDermott with his maiden ODI half century lifted Australia to a total worth fighting for.

Pakistan had a jittery start and throughout its innings never posed a threat to the Australian side. With a required run rate of 6 plus, Pakistan did not come close to the average after the first powerplay. They were down by one wicket by the fifth over for 24 when Fakhar Zaman in an attempt to charge Sean Abbott gave catch to Head at mid-off. He made 18 in as many balls, aided with three fours. However, his opening partner, Imam-ul-Haq and Babar held Pakistan’s hopes and came close to the required average with a 96 runs second wicket partnership. But Australia applied breaks to their confidence building innings by snaring Babar in the 25th over. The Australian strike came only after Babar completed his 18th ODI half century in 64 balls and at 57 he was trapped leg before by Mitchell Swepson.

After Babar, Imam maintained the runs flow and in between saw Saud Shakeel (3), Mohamamd Rizwan (10), Iftikhar Ahmed (2) lose patience. Imam, however, transformed his 11th half century into eight ODI hundred in 92 balls. He also made 38 for the sixth wicket with Khushdil Shah before heading back to the dressing room scoring 103 runs in 96 balls. He was bowled by Nathan Ellis.

Pakistan then at 204 for six, had Khushdil the last batter to reach double figures as he got 19 in 22 balls. Pakistan’s lower order in Hasan Ali, Mohammad Wasim Junior, Haris Rauf and Zahid Mahmood.

Adam Zampa with his four wickets was the pick of the bowlers as he also reached 100 ODI scalps. Head with his all-round performance also took two wickets and so did Swepson while Abbott and Ellis shared one apiece.

After an initial smashing from Head, Pakistan bowlers returned with a tight length in the death to restrict Australia within the groove otherwise the score seemed crossing 350-plus. The Australian openers Aaron Finch and Head produced a solid start and came up with a magnificent 110 runs opening wicket partnership.

As Head was in perfect flow, Australian captain Finch, struggled to get runs and by the 15th over he was sent back to the pavilion as the debutant Zahid Mehmood dismissed him for 23. The right-handed opener faced 36 balls and hit only one six.

Despite losing opening partner, Head kept the scoreboard moving and went on to score his second ODI century off just 70 balls. The left-handed batter, however, could not stay further at the crease and became the victim of Iftikhar Ahmed. His attempt to hit the ball over the long-off boundary landed in the hands of Khushdil who ran forward to take a comfortable catch.

Head scored 101 off 72 balls with the help of 12 boundaries and three sixes. It was Head’s second ODI century - both have been against Pakistan – which was boosted with an average of 36. The right-handed batter Ben McDermott, who replaced Finch at the crease, hit maiden half century. Before heading back to the pavilion, Ben knocked 55 off 70 deliveries, laced with four boundaries.

The wicket of Ben triggered Australian batting collapse until Cameron Green held the fort for the tourists and produced 40 runs by the fag end of the innings. Marnus Labuschagne and Marcus Stoinis contributed valuable 25 and 26 runs respectively while Sean Abbott made 14.

For Pakistan, Haris Rauf and Zahid produced two dismissals each, while Iftikhar and Khushdil Shah had one scalp each. Asked to bat, Australia appeared on course for a massive total through Head’s early onslaught. But Pakistan remarkably recovered through their spinners on a pitch that is batting friendly, but sharp turn was evident.

Australia, which was depleted with injuries to some of its players, was also hit by covid-19, leaving only 13 players in the hanger to choose from. They handed debuts to legspinner Mitchell Swepson and quick Nathan Ellis. Pakistan had fresh faces too with 34-year-old legspinner Zahid Mahmood and young quick Mohammad Wasim Jnr making their ODI debuts.