LAHORE: Pakistan got off to a fast start — their best ever against Australia in a T20 powerplay — but then the wheels came off.
Continuing his rich vein of form, Babar Azam (66) had laid the platform for a big total in the one-off T20 at the Gaddafi Stadium on Tuesday, which concluded Australia’s first tour of Pakistan since 1998.
But once the captain fell at the start of the 16th over, Pakistan slumped. Some lusty blows by Khushdil Shah (24), Hasan Ali (10) and Usman Qadir (18 not out) near the end saw the hosts post 162-8 after being put in to bat.
The runs didn’t seem enough but Pakistan still forced a thrilling finish with Australia reaching their target with five deliveries to spare and showing exactly why they are the T20 world champions.
Having struggled with the bat recently, Australia’s limited-overs skipper Aaron Finch got some welcome runs — 55 off 44 with six fours — which proved pivotal for his side getting a three-wicket victory.
For long periods, though, in cricket’s shortest format, Pakistan were never in it.
Travis Head (26) set up the chase with quickfire runs at the start of their innings and Josh Inglis (24) kept up the momentum with a similarly quick knock.
Pakistan got quick wickets twice during the Australian run chase, but it didn’t affect Australia’s momentum with Marcus Stoinis getting a nine-ball 23.
With three overs remaining and five wickets down, Australia still needed 15 but Finch all but ended the contest when he got back-to-back fours off Haris Rauf.
There was a twist in the tale, however, when Finch — looking to end the game in a hurry — holed Shaheen Shah Afridi to Asif Ali at the deep mid-wicket fence.
Shaheen then uprooted Sean Abbot’s off-stump to set up a tantalising finish with Australia still requiring four to win.
But all hopes of a sensational victory for the hosts ended when Ben McDermott clipped Haris Rauf for four on the first delivery of the final over.
It meant Australia return home with a Test series win while Pakistan will have to console themselves with the 2-1 ODI series triumph earlier this month.
“I think we were about 20 to 25 runs short, especially after the start we got today,” admitted Babar, who said Pakistan missed the unfit Shadab Khan. “But I’m satisfied with our overall peformance during the series.”
Pakistan were seeking revenge for their loss in the semi-finals of last year’s T20 World Cup to Australia, and made a breezy start, scoring 56 in the powerplay.
But from then on, just like that semi-final, it was Australia all the way.
Mohammad Rizwan b Green 23
Babar Azam c Ellis b Zampa 66
Fakhar Zaman c Finch b Green 0
Iftikhar Ahmed c Inglis b Ellis 13
Khushdil Shah c McDermott b Ellis 24
Asif Ali c Labuschagne b Ellis 3
Hasan Ali b Abbott 10
Shaheen Shah Afridi c Stoinis b Ellis 0
Mohammad Wasim not out 2
Usman Qadir not out 18
EXTRAS (LB-2, NB-1) 3
TOTAL (for eight wickets, 20 overs) 162
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-67 (Rizwan), 2-67 (Fakhar), 3-93 (Iftikhar), 4-118 (Babar), 5-127 (Asif), 6-142 (Hasan), 7-142 (Khushdil), 8-142 (Shaheen).
DID NOT BAT: Haris Rauf
BOWLING: Head 2-0-17-0, Dwarshuis 3-0-42-0, Abbott 4-0-28-1 (1nb), Ellis 4-0-28-4, Zampa 4-0-49-1, Green 3-0-16-2.
T. Head c Usman b Haris 26
A. Finch c Asif b Shaheen 55
J. Inglis c Rizwan b Usman 24
M. Labuschagne st Rizwan b Usman 2
M. Stoinis b Wasim Jr 23
C. Green b Wasim Jr 2
B. McDermott not out 22
S. Abbott b Shaheen 0
B. Dwarshius not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-5, NB-1, W-3) 163
TOTAL (for seven wickets, 19.1 overs) 163
FALL OF WICKETS: 1-40 (Head), 2-84 (Inglis), 3-95 (Labuschagne), 4-119 (Stoinis), 5-129 (Green), DID NOT BAT: S. Abbott, B. Dwarshuis, N. Ellis, A. Zampa.
BOWLING: Shaheen 4-0-21-2 (1w), Hasan 3-0-30-0, Haris 3.1-0-35-1, Usman 4-0-33-2 (1nb, 1w), Khushdil 1-0-9-0, Wasim Jr 4-0-30-2 (1w)
RESULT: Australia won by three wickets.
Published in Dawn, April 6th, 2022