A controversial run-out decision by TV umpire Shozab Raza against Australia opener D’Arcy Short marred an otherwise impressive 11-run victory for Pakistan over the tourists in Dubai on Friday night in the second T20I.
The win for world No1 Pakistan saw them seal the three-match series with one game still to play on Sunday night, also in Dubai.
Australia bowled and fielded well to keep the hosts to just 147-6 off their 20 overs but a customary disciplined bowling performance by Pakistan, coupled with the early decision against Short, meant Australia fell short despite some lusty late order hitting by Glenn Maxwell (52 off 37) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (27 off 17) as they finished on 136-8.
Here are our talking points from the match:
Pakistan show why they are the top-ranked nation
During the pre-match press conference ahead of the series, Australia captain Aaron Finch reiterated twice within a short span of time that ‘there’s a reason why Pakistan are the world number one’ when it comes to the shortest format of the game.
The Men in Green had won their last eight consecutive series’ with New Zealand, the West Indies and Sri Lanka on the receiving end while also winning the one-off clash against England in Sarfraz Ahmed’s first game as skipper. And in the last two matches, Pakistan played like the number one side.
While Imad Wasim stole the show in Abu Dhabi, it was the turn of youngsters Shadab Khan and Shaheen Afridi, who did the damage with the ball with two wickets, to shine. Meanwhile Babar Azam showed why he is so highly-rated with his 45-run knock. Pakistan were clinical and will fancy their chances of completing a series whitewash in the dead-rubber on Sunday.
D’Arcy Short given out by optical illusion
The match almost turned on a shocking decision by the third umpire Raza from Pakistan who adjudged that Short was run-out though his bat was clearly grounded behind the line.
The controversial incident came in the third over when Finch drove the ball straight back at spinner Wasim.
The ball cannoned off Imad’s finger tips and onto the stumps so umpire Asif Yaqoob sent it upstairs to see if the batsmen at the non-striking end had his bat grounded.
Short clearly wasn’t worried about the review and as the TV replay showed he slid his bat back into the crease well before the ball hit the stumps.
But perhaps confused by the fore-shortening effect of the TV screen, Raza judged that Short had never grounded his bat even after the ball hit the stumps.
As the screen at the ground flashed up OUT Short was understandably astonished while Finch went into meltdown.
The Australian captain marched down the wicket to confront Yaqoob as a stunned Short stood mid-pitch not going anywhere.
Then Short reluctantly began to trudge off the field, followed closely by Finch who looked like he was about to depart with his fellow batsmen.
At this stage chirpy Pakistan captain Sarfraz got involved verballing Finch, who returned fire.
Eventually, Finch returned to the batting crease but the Aussie captain was clearly unsettled by the incident, dismissed a few overs later for a stuttering three off 10 balls.
Aussies sharp in the field
This was an impressive performance from Australia in the field and they did extremely well to keep Pakistan to just 147-6, especially when the hosts were in complete control at 99-1 in the 13th over.
The stars for Australia were spinners Adam Zampa (0-21 off four overs) and Short (1-16 off three) who kept it tight with medium pacer Coulter-Nile picking up some late wickets to finish with 3-18 off three.
Zampa’s figures were particularly impressive.
Worst empiring in 20-20 cricket seen today in Aus-Pak match...3rd empire gave run out to D'arcy short inspite he was clearly in crease more than a feet..but front empire made wrong referral..& adding pain to it 3rd empire gave out..in all match refree ranjan madugale was silent.— Dr Himanshu Jayswar (@HimanshuJayswar) October 26, 2018
The 26-year-old leggie went for a six off his very first ball, lofted majestically back over his head by Mohammad Hafeez, but the blonde South Australian fought back to give up just 15 runs off his next 23 deliveries.
His figures could have been even better had Coulter-Nile held on to a catch at long-on, also from Hafeez.
No wonder his team-mates rushed towards Zampa at the end of his spell to congratulate him.
Short similarly kept things tight with very few loose deliveries and picking up the important wicket of Babar Azam with just 4.2 overs remaining. He also took two solid catches in the deep.
The bowlers were helped by some intelligent field settings by Finch and the building pressure kept the wickets falling at regular intervals.
Take off some loose deliveries from Coulter-Nile and the score could have been even less.
Some good hitting by Faheem Ashraf with 18 off 10 pushed Pakistan up to the 150 mark but in reality this should have been a lot more.
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