Babar Azam’s magnificent unbeaten 68*, complimented by Imad Wasim’s haul of 3/20 helped Pakistan get their Twenty20 series against Australia off to a great start with a crushing 66-run win in the first match in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday. (SCORECARD)
Azam’s knock proved to be the difference on a sluggish pitch and his 73-run stand for the second wicket with Mohammad Hafeez (39) put Pakistan on course for a huge total. However, a disastrous middle-overs collapse from Pakistan, in which they lost six wickets for 23 runs, gave Australia momentum. Billy Stanlake (3/21) and Andrew Tye (3/24) were in great form and it seemed like Pakistan had thrown away the advantage.
Some lusty blows from Hasan Ali (17) in the final over, bowled by Nathan Coulter-Nile, helped Pakistan cross 150. It was a significant score to cross for the hosts, who had lost only three out of 42 games while defending totals in excess of 150+.
Disaster for Australia
In response, Australia’s chase got off to a disastrous start. Imad Wasim, who was making a comeback into the Pakistan side after more than a year, ripped through the Australia top order with the wickets of Aaron Finch (0) and D’ Arcy Short (4) in the first over. Wasim was well backed by Faheem Ashraf who bowled the dangerous Glenn Maxwell for 2. Wasim continued to torment Australia and his next victim was wicketkeeper Alex Carrey for 1.
Ben McDermott’s run-out increased Australia’s woes and when Ashraf accounted for the big-hitting Chris Lynn for 14, Australia were out of the contest at 26/6. Some gritty batting from Nathan Coulter-Nile (34) and Ashton Agar (19) ensured Australia avoided further humiliation but they could hang on and Pakistan bowled Australia out for 89 to register a crushing win.
In the post-match presentation, Australia skipper Aaron Finch rued the batting collapse of Australia. “That power play was horrific...it was like a car crash in slow motion. Opening the batting, it's my responsibility to get us off to a good start and set up the chase there. I take full responsibility for that. I think any time that you're chasing a total like that it's important you have a solid start and for me to get out in the first over and not give us that was not good enough,” Finch said.
The second match of the three-game series will be played in Dubai on October 26.