LAHORE: Australian captain Aaron Finch with his gritty batting steered his team to a three-wicket win over Pakistan in the one-off T20 International here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday night.
Australia with Finch’s well-deserved half century made 163 for seven in 19.1 overs (with five balls to spare). Earlier, banking on the four wickets haul of right-arm pacer Nathan Ellis, the visitors restricted Pakistan to 162 for eight.
Australia was off to a blistering start thanks to their opener Travis Head and captain Aaron Finch as they posted 40 runs in 3.3 overs. Head with 26 runs had the major share in the first-wicket partnership. Haris Rauf halted Head’s run riot in the fourth over. He hit three boundaries and a six as he faced 14 balls. Finch then sat 10 was joined by Josh Inglis.
Despite losing Head, Australia maintained around nine-plus runs average when the required run-rate was just above seven. Finch, who struggled to come among the runs in the ODIs, somehow hit form.
When Pakistan needed wickets the most, his partner Inglis became the victim of Usman Qadir for his 24. Their partnership yielded 44 runs and Australia was then 84 for two in 8.3 overs. But Finch and Marnus Labuschagne did not let the run-rate die down only when Usman struck again for his second wicket and let the latter march back to the pavilion. Marcus Stoinis joined his captain and produced three fours in Usman’s over that had Labuschagne in an earlier delivery.
Stoinis, who turned the match Australia way with his 9-ball 23, was cleaned by Mohammad Wasim and Australia was still in the game at 118 for four in 11.3 overs. As Finch was stranded at the other end, about an over later Wasim struck with the wicket of Cameron Green. Joined by Ben McDermott, Finch, however, built up a commendable half century which was his 30th inT20 international and Australia reached 128 for five. Pakistan captain Babar Azam brought in Shaheen, who responded with the wickets of Finch (55 in 34 balls) and Sean Abbott in the 19th over. Australia 158 for seven, now required four off the final over with McDermott and Ben Dwarshuis at the crease.
Australia’s right hand batsman McDermott, who in the second ODI of the tour hit a maiden century, hit Rauf for a first ball four to saw off the required runs. Shaheen Shah, Usman and Wasim chipped in with two wickets each while Rauf had one.
Pakistan put on display a below par batting performance despite the brilliant half-century from Pakistan captain Babar Azam. Pakistan got a wonderful start when Babar and Rizwan were at the crease and suddenly the breaks were applied to the run-rate with the fall of two back-to-back wickets. It was Green who came up with the breakthroughs when Pakistan was at 67. He clean bowled Rizwan at a 19-ball 23 in the 8th over and on the very next ball, Green with a fuller made Fakhar Zaman send it straight down to Australian captain Finch at mid-on.
Babar was left astonished at the other end and was joined by Iftikhar Ahmed, who after playing 13 balls and scoring as many runs, edged Nathan Ellis delivery straight to Inglis behind the stumps and Pakistan was down to three at 93.
Inglis was playing his first match of the tour after he returned positive for COVID-19 and after a negative result he was picked in the playing eleven.
Four overs later, when Pakistan captain and Khushdil Shah started to find runs, Adam Zampa snared one of the most important wickets of Babar, who went for the lofted drive to extra covers and Ellis did the rest.
Babar made his 26th T20 half century as he mustered 66 runs in 56 balls, laced with six boundaries and two sixes. Ellis then made quick work of Asif Ali leaving Pakistan at 127 for five.
Both Khushdil and Hassan then took the score to 142 before the latter was bowled by Abbott. That fall of wicket ignited the collapse as Pakistan which was 142 for six was reduced to 142 for eight by the 19th over.
Ellis first romped Khushdil for 24 in 21 balls and then sent back Shaheen Shah Afridi for a duck. Pakistan’s ninth wicket pair of Mohammad Wasim Junior and Usman Qadir punctuated 20 runs to lift the score to decent. As Wasim remained not out at two, Qadir’s two fours and a six got him 18 runs as he faced just six balls.
Ellis was the star in the Australian attack with four wicket for 28 runs. As Green took two most important wickets of Rizwan and Fakhar for 16 runs, Abbott and Zampa shared one scalp apiece.
Australia won the Test series 1-0 after two drawn matches at Rawalpindi and Karachi, claimed the third Test match at Lahore and then lost the ODI series to Pakistan 1-2, winning the only T20 game on Tuesday.
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