It was the 10-year anniversary of the Dubai Cricket Stadium. A decade ago Pakistan and Australia kicked things off at the Dubai International Stadium.
On Friday, both teams were facing each other once again and this time, it was Australia who prevailed in a bizarre run-chase by Pakistan where the hosts lost by six runs despite having two batsmen score centuries.
Australia batted first and posted 277-7, thanks to a stroke filled 98 from all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
Pakistan were forced to make a couple of changes, with captain Shoaib Malik ruled out due to a bruised rib and batsman Abid Ali making his ODI debut after regular opener Imam-ul-Haq became unavailable due to fever.
The last-minute inclusion of Abid proved to be a blessing in disguise as he smashed a century (112) on debut to anchor Pakistan’s run chase.
He got fine support from wicketkeeper Mohammad Rizwan (104) but a shockingly poor last 10 overs from Pakistan and sensational bowling and fielding from Australia saw Pakistan restricted to 271-8. Seamer Nathan Coulter-Nile was the pick of the bowlers with figures of 3-53.
AUSSIES LOSE WAY AFTER GOOD START
It was an indifferent first half of their innings by Australia. After openers Usman Khawaja and Aaron Finch put on a fifty-run opening stand, Australia lost their way by the middle of the innings.
Stand-in captain Imad Wasim (2-56) accounted for in-form Shaun Marsh and Peter Handscomb while leg-spinner Yasir Shah, finally coming into his own, bowled Marcus Stoinis with a googly as Australia got stuck at 101-4.
THE BIG SHOW
After Khawaja was out for 62, Australia’s innings was in a precarious position at 140-5. All-rounder Glenn Maxwell, probably in the form of his life, took the match by the scruff of the neck, launching Pakistan bowlers to all corners of the ground.
Maxwell walked around the crease and had no trouble reverse scooping fast bowler Usman Shinwari. He was just two away from a deserved century but he was looking at quick runs. In the final over of the innings, Maxwell tried to steal a second but was run out by some distance.
His partner Alex Carey had reached his maiden fifty by that time and the two put up 134 for the sixth wicket.
Fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile castled opener Shan Masood and it looked like Australia would be all over Pakistan’s batsmen in the second innings.
But opener Abid – who holds the record for the highest List A score by a keeper batsman of 209 – played the conditions beautifully. There was hardly anything on offer for the bowlers and the right-handed batsman played some exquisite cover drives and pull shots to keep the run rate ticking over.
Once he got the company of keeper Rizwan, Abid opened up and started to milk the bowlers. Off-spinner Nathan Lyon got sharp turn early on but that didn’t culminate in a wicket as Pakistan took the match deep.
LATE HICCUP, PAKISTAN IMPLODE
Mind boggling! Four 100s in the series. All in the losing cause. This needs a serious brainstorming. Every time Pakistan batsman scores a 100 he seems behind eight the ball. Shocking to say the least. #PakvAus— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) March 29, 2019
As Abid neared his ton on debut, there was a moment of scare as Adam Zampa appealed for an lbw which was overturned on review. He went on to reach three figures, becoming just the third Pakistan batsman to score a ton on ODI debut.
The equation seemed like a walk in the park – 66 in the final 10 overs with a centurion and another approaching three figures at the crease. But from there, things unravelled for Pakistan.
Abid was caught slog sweeping Zampa to long on and then in perhaps the momentum changing moment of the match, new batsman Umar Akmal played an ugly swipe to get bowled for seven.
25 were needed from the last three overs as Rizwan completed his century. But seamer Kane Richardson conceded just five runs in the 18th over and also got the scalp of captain Wasim as the equation quickly became 17 off the last over.
Stoinis bowled the final over and effectively ended the match when he had Rizwan caught at deep square leg. Shinwari hit his first ball for a six down the ground and got out the next ball as the equation became eight needed of the last ball. It was the seventh straight ODI win for Australia.
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