Aussies complete clean sweep against Pakistan
Australia completed an ODI series clean sweep over Pakistan on Sunday as Mohammad Irfan was unable to see his side over the line in a drama-filled conclusion to thee-match showdown.
The tall tail-ender walked in with two runs to get from four balls after Sohail Tanvir lost his wicket playing across the line to a Glenn Maxwell delivery, but was caught at cover from the last ball handing the Australians a one-run victory.
Tanvir and Zulfigar Babar did well to bring the team within inches of the line after a middle order collapse nullified the solid work their batsmen did at the start of the innings.
Having restricted Australia to 213, the run-chase stated well with Ahmed Shehzad and Sarfraz Ahmed putting on 56 runs before Xavier Doherty struck.
Shehzad tried to cut a full-ish delivery which cut back – striking middle and off stumps.
Asad Shafiq top-scored for Pakistan with his 50, but none of the lower-middle order batsmen managed to converts starts into runs as the Australian bowlers followed the same strangle-based approach to the match that their opponents opted for when they elected to field.
Heading into the match, Pakistan implemented a rotation policy for what was effectively a dead-rubber and at the start the decision seemed to do wonders to the side as they managed to pile on the pressure.
It marked one of the lowest totals the Aussies had posted in 20 years when completing the full 50-overs and it was remarkable that they could not kick-on after passing the 100-run mark having only lost the wicket of Aaron Finch.
David Warner and Steve Smith, the latter again confirming his value in this format, put on 54-runs for the second wicket before Pakistan’s bowlers started taking more control.
Smith, the only centurion of the series, was in splendid form once more and showcased the footwork and patience that is so important in the 50-over format.
Pakistan, under the leadership of Shahid Afridi, showed great discipline with the ball as their bowlers did not send-off a wide or a no-ball in the first 45 overs.
Afridi set the example by taking the wickets of Warner and Glen Maxwell during the batting Powerplay before Sohail Tanvir kept the lower order in check.
The skipper could, however, not back-up his bowling with the bat and his wicket signalled the start of the end for what should have been a routine win.
Tanvir and his fellow bowlers did well to keep it tight and as the boundaries started drying-up, the batsmen steadily started taking more risks.
Coming up one-run short would not have done the confidence levels in the Pakistan squad any good with the World Cup just around the corner, although they would have seen this match as one where a few risks could be taken to ensure that the best combinations are in place when the global showpiece gets underway in February.
Australia: Aaron Finch, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Steve Smith, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Starc, Kane Richardson, Xavier Doherty
Pakistan: Ahmed Shehzad, Sarfraz Ahmed, Asad Shafiq, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Amin, Fawad Alam, Shahid Afridi, Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir, Zulfiqar Babar, Mohammad Irfan
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