Smith steers Aus to victory over Pakistan
Australia started their tour of the United Arab Emirates with a 93-run victory over Pakistan on Tuesday with Steve Smith starring with a maiden ODI century.
As splendid as his performance with the bat was, it was the work of the team’s bowlers that proved to be too much for Pakistan to deal with as they never really looked like chasing down the average total.
Mitchell Johnson returned figures of 3/24 in the seven overs he bowled. The man who really applied pressure on the Pakistan batting order was spinner Nathan Lyon.
Lyon kept it tight throughout his 10-over spell during which he went for only 3.3 runs per over while claiming the wickets of Sarfraz Ahmed and Misbah-ul-Haq.
Apart from a 50-run second-wicket partnership between Ahmed (33) and Asad Shafiq (9) Pakistan had very little to show for their efforts.
A late flourish by Mohammad Irfan and Zulfiqar Babar, who each struck a few big blows over the boundary ropes, provided some entertainment when it was already apparent that the battle was lost.
Smith finally produced an ODI innings of quality for his country, ending a run of disappointment that brought most to believe that he is only capable of contributing in the Test arena.
His top score in his previous 27 innings was a humble 49, but on Tuesday he struck 101 runs to help his team to a total of 255/8 in their tour opening match in Sharjah.
Smith was particularly impressive against the Pakistan spin bowlers and often advanced down the track – making good use of his feet with every shot he played.
He was eventually dismissed by Shahid Afridi in the 45th over and that breakthrough ensured that Australia weren’t able to capitalise as much during the death as they would have liked to.
Instead of posting an intimidating total, the Australian side were only able to ad 39-runs in the final six overs with 17 of those coming in the last over during which Mitchell Jonson picked-up three boundaries off Wahab Riaz.
While the finish was impressive, the start was hardly what Australia had hoped for on this tour as Aaron Finch was caught at point off Mohammed Irfan’s first delivery, which was also the first ball to be bowled in the series.
This meant that Smith, who batted at No.3, in effect opened the batting and together with David Warner and the pair brought calm to the wicket before steadily increasing the pace.
Smith and Warner pilled-on 84 runs for the second wicket before the latter became the first of three wickets Afridi would take on the day.
Not only did it end an impressive partnership, it also marked the end of a wicket-drought for Afridi that stretched six matches.
Afridi also took a stunning catch off the bowling of Fawad Alman to remove George Baily, although he would be disappointed that Glen Maxwell was dropped twice during his spell.
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