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For Australia, David Warner and Mitchell Marsh win two crucial points


Pakistan 305 (Imam 70, Shafique 64, Zampa 4-53) lost to Australia 367 for 9 (Warner 163, Marsh 121, Afridi 5-54) by 62 runs.

Even though Australia and Pakistan drew today, all evening long, they were still one step ahead. After a brief glimpse of a drama, Australia easily won the match thanks to the damage caused by centuries from Mitchell Marsh and David Warner, which proved to be too much for Pakistan to overcome. Pakistan counterattacked to contain Pat Cummins’ side, as far as a team that posts 367 can be said to be contained, and made a good effort at pursuing. But after Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique shared a 134-run opening partnership, Australia started to pile up wickets at a steady rate, with Adam Zampa claiming four for the second straight game. Although Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed attempted to push the game further, Pakistan ultimately lost six wickets for 36 runs, allowing Australia to win by 62 runs.

In retrospect, the first inning’s halfway point effectively decided the game’s fate. To establish the tone, Marsh clobbered Shaheen for six in his opening over. Both openers initially treated Hasan Ali with the same contempt. But Usama Mir, standing in for Shadab Khan, would miss Pakistan’s great opportunity, which was still to come. Warner, batting at number ten, skied Shaheen Afridi to mid-off, giving Mir ample time to position himself and get beneath it. Before it dropped, it struck Shaheen in the chest, causing him to collapse to his knees in desperation.

Pakistan would be in that position for the better part of the next two hours collectively. On a rare off day, Haris Rauf was clobbered for 24 in his opening over, which set the stage for both openers to strike. In the first over, Australia amassed 101 runs in ten overs, putting them far ahead of the game as both openers quickly approached century. In the 31st over, they would make back-to-back deliveries, and by then, the 200 was up and the 400 was looking quite likely.

The Pakistani fielding would only get worse as Shafique again grassed Warner in the deep and Babar Azam trapped Steven Smith at first slip. The only bowler from Pakistan to really come out on top was Afridi, who took out Glenn Maxwell, who had been promoted to three, and Marsh off back-to-back deliveries as Pakistan tried to finally contain Australia.

They would thereafter experience their most successful spell of the match. Pakistan was totally dominant in the last third of Australia’s innings, taking wickets at a steady rate while Australia’s run rate virtually stopped. That was particularly true when Warner eventually fell, but not before he nearly reached his highest ODI score with another massive six off the unfortunate Rauf, and Australia were easily surpassing 350 at this point. However, the additional acceleration they had anticipated never materialized, mainly due to Afridi’s excellent death bowling, as he took five wickets in the 50th over, the second time in this game that he had taken a hat-trick. Pakistan took the lead into the break having scored just 29 runs in the previous six overs.

They also started off brilliantly with a bat. They had scored forty runs in the first five overs, but Australia found that line just short of a length to put the brakes on, even if there was little strike rotation and a lot of dot balls. Shafique remained silent for the bulk of the remaining powerplay, only releasing his arms to declare Pakistan’s intentions with a four and two sixes off Cummins.

In the seventeenth over, they mentioned the partnership of 100, but Pakistan knew they required more, much more. A side posting a score as high as Australia’s 367 has only lost two ODIs outright, and that would presumably need massive hundreds and significant partnerships. At that point, it looked like Pakistan would lose when Stoinis removed Shafique with his first delivery and then came back the next over to force Imam to hole out to deep point. A few wickets turned into a bit of a cluster when Babar, who was brilliant when he was there, muscled one right into the hands of the opposition captain at short midwicket. Cummins’ ecstatic expression demonstrated what an incredible moment that was.

The asking rate increased, plunging Pakistan back into a reconstruction period. Mohammad Rizwan and Saud Shakeel were merely trying to maintain the run rate, with Shakeel favoring the pull shot in front of square, which brought him a couple of boundaries. However, it would also be his undoing, as one error soared up towards cover on the offside, where Stoinis finished off a superb catch.

Marcus Stoinis broke Pakistan’s century opening stand with his first-ball strike.
Pakistan’s century opening partnership was broken by Marcus Stoinis’ first-ball strike. AFP/Getty Images

Pakistan made their last stand with 136 to go. Iftikhar Ahmed, the cult hero, led the way, hitting Cummins for two sixes to raise Pakistan’s score to 250. Stoinis’ next over saw 13 runs off it, bringing the needed run rate down to 8.5. It was possibly the one moment during the match where Pakistan would have been marginal favorites, but Australia reminded them of the one asset they currently lacked: a premier spinner.

Zampa made a spectacular comeback to finish the three-over session. In every over that he bowled, he drove the dagger deeper and deeper into Pakistan. With a skidding over, he first trapped Iftikhar in front, and then in the next over, Rizwan was pinned in front of his stumps after failing to get a sweep away. With more than 80 runs remaining to be scored, Zampa delivered the fatal blow off his penultimate ball, beating Mohammad Nawaz in the air and catching him well out of his crease as keeper Josh Inglis whipped the bails off. Pakistan was now eight down.

Once that was completed, his teammates polished the end. It was all over by the 46th over, and Pakistan went to think about what went wrong six hours earlier. Australia, on the other hand, has won two straight and is climbing the standings, gaining momentum as their preferred competition approaches its conclusion.

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