Thursday June 30, 2022

Imam, Babar’s tons help Pakistan level series against Australia

April 01, 2022
Babar Azam after winning the ODI series opener against Australia on March 31, 2022. Twitter
Babar Azam after winning the ODI series opener against Australia on March 31, 2022. Twitter

LAHORE: Pakistan opener Imam-ul Haq, captain Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman put the Australian attack to sword and later Khushdil Shah’s cameo brought the three-match ODI series at par one-all here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.

Australia having won the opening match of the series by 88 runs was at the receiving end despite posting a huge total. Their attack did not have any answer to the hammering given to them by Pakistan batters. They played throughout the entire innings within the grasp of the required run-rate.

Australia with a cohesive approach and Ben McDermott’s century constructed massive 348 for eight and then Pakistan responded with the highest ever run chase posting 352 for four with six balls to spare, winning the match by six wickets.

There were four match winning partnerships in Pakistan’s innings with Imam enjoying two of them, one with Fakhar and the other with Babar while the third was between Pakistan captain and Mohammad Rizwan. Later Khushdil and Iftikhar Ahmed unbeaten stand of 35 runs pushed the Aussies against the wall.

Imam and Fakhar were going great guns until Marcus Stoinis broke their partnership that punctuated 118 runs for opening wicket. Stoinis with a slower delivery beaten the edge of Fakhar and chipped off his stump. Fakhar, who reached his 14th ODI half century in 48 balls, sliced 67 runs in 64 balls with the help of seven boundaries and two sixes.

Imam then at 48 was joined by Babar Azam to maintain the charge and Pakistan’s hopes. Imam, who managed his half century in 50 balls when Pakistan reached 123 for one, hit a second consecutive century of the series, which was his ninth in ODIs. When Babar was at 46, Imam completed his hundred in 90 balls decorated with six fours and three sixes to also become quickest batter in the world to reach the ninth ODI century.

Babar, however, for his half century took 42 balls and both these batters smashed 111 runs for the second wicket. It was Adam Zampa who separated these Pakistan’s on-slaughters taking Imam’s wicket.

Imam when at 106 in 87 balls came down the wicket attempting a big hit that went high and did not find the ropes rather Marnus Labuschagne at long-on to take the catch, leaving Pakistan at 228 for two with another 120 required for win in 15 overs. Babar, who was also the fastest to have reached his 15th ODI hundred in 73 balls, along with Mohammad Rizwan set the path towards Australian demise. Babar, who should have finished the match for Pakistan, fell at 114 off Nathan Ellis. As Babar faced 83 balls, he hit 11 boundaries and a six.

At 309 for three, the deficit of win was left with Rizwan to complete with Khushdil Shah but the former with an irresponsible shot gifted his wicket at 23 and team’s 217 for four. Khushdil’s 27 in 17 balls supported with two sixes and two fours and Iftikhar Ahmed’s 7-ball 17 overhauled the Australia’s total.

Zampa took two wickets while Eilis and Stoinis shared one scalp each. Earlier, McDermott hammered maiden One-day International century in 102 balls to give Australian total an authority. He also enjoyed two solid partnerships for the second and third wickets with Travis Head and Labuschagne.

McDermott with a fluent stroke-play produced 104 runs in 108 balls and he along with Head developed 162 runs for the second wicket that gave spine to Australian score, which was lingering at one for one.

On the other hand, the in-form left-hand opener continued his batting genius in the same fashion as he put on display in the first ODI and posted 89 runs in 70 balls before being bowled by Zahid Mahmood and cleanly taken at short fine leg by Shaheen.

Australia then at 163 for two, had McDermot and Marnus coming together to develop 75 runs for the second wicket. Mohammad Wasim broke their partnership but not before McDermott completed his century laced with 10 boundaries and four hits over the ropes.

Marnus on his part came up with his fourth half century. His 59 runs contribution came in 49 balls that was aided with five fours. He was sent back to the pavilion by Khushdil, which somehow halted the runs flow.

But his other end partner, Marcus Stoinis, who came at the crease after McDermott’s fall, hit a 33-ball 49. Though he saw Marnus, Alex Carey (5) and Camaron Green (5) head back to the dressing room was supported by Seam Abbott (28) and before the Australian innings came to an end there were a flurry of runs on the board for the tourists to defend.

Pakistan had an early inroad in Aussie batting following skipper Aaron Finch fall for a first ball duck to Shaheen Shah Afridi off an inswinging full toss. Finch’s departure handed the mace of responsibility to Head and McDermott, who responded well to the situation. They not only weeded off the shine of the ball but also erased the Pakistan bowling threat. First both Head and Ben McDermott approached the century stand and also completed their half centuries and then McDermott saddled off towards his magnificent century.

Asked to bat first, Australia having 13 players to choose from named an unbeaten side from the one that beat Pakistan in the opening ODI. Pakistan however, made one change in the line-up bringing in Shaheen in place of Hassan Ali.