For the second straight match, Pakistan threatened to overhaul a stiff target posted by Australia, only to lose by a close margin.
Pakistan lost the fourth ODI in Dubai by six runs and on Sunday, went down by 20 despite a fighting century from Haris Sohail (130) and a daring 50 not out from stand-in captain Imad Wasim.
The Aussies piled up 327-7 in Dubai with opener Usman Khawaja continuing his fine form with 98 and star all-rounder Glenn Maxwell cracking 70 off just 33 balls.
From 136-3 in 24 overs, Pakistan made a serious attempt at the target with Umar Akmal scoring a fine 43. But a miserly 10-over spell from Maxwell that went for just 45 runs and also had the scalp of Mohammad Rizwan turned out to be deciding factor as Pakistan could only manage 307-7.
The hosts thus lost the series 0-5 as Australia romped to their eighth straight ODI win.
Top four make hay
Australia’s top order has come to the party at various points during the five match series. In the fifth game, all top four chipped in, compounding the problem for selectors who need to accommodate the returning David Warner and Steve Smith.
Opener Khawaja became the second Australian batsman in three days to be out for 98 after Maxwell in the fourth game.
Left-handed Khawaja has six fifty plus scores in his eight ODIs, including two tons. He added 134 for the opening wicket with captain Aaron Finch (53) which went a long way in diminishing Pakistan hopes.
While Khawaja, Finch and Shaun Marsh (61) took their time in scoring runs, Maxwell went into overdrive. At the start of the final 10 overs, Maxwell was on six from three balls. He used the bottom-handed check shot to great effect, hitting sixes down the ground off pacers Junaid Khan and Mohammad Abbas off successive overs. Two boundaries to square leg in three balls off Junaid brought up his fifty off just 26 balls.
Abbas and Shah struggle
They are the veterans of the Test arena but seamer Abbas and leg-spinner Yasir Shah just don’t inspire as much confidence on flat wickets in ODIs. In excellent batting conditions, the slow bowling of Abbas was taken apart by Australia as the Pakistan bowler went for 71 runs from his 10 overs. Leg-spinner Yasir too went wicketless in his 10 overs, going at more than six an over.
Had it not been for some superb death bowling by left-arm quick Usman Shinwari (4-49), Australia would have finished closer to 350.
Haris on the charge
Left-handed batsman Sohail has been in fine form, seemingly recovered from his knee troubles. Opener Abi Ali scored a ton in his debut but was brought down back to earth with a golden duck on Sunday. Sohail found an able ally in fellow southpaw Shan Masood. The two took the score past 100 before Masood fell lbw to Zampa.
Sohail had scored a ton in the first match of the series and teamed up with Akmal to add 102 runs for the fourth wicket and reach three figures himself. But in a span for six balls across the 40th and 41st over, both batsmen fell as Australia came roaring back. Pakistan were 239-5 in the 41st over and all but out of the match.
Imad has a go
Skipper Wasim had bowled well earlier, going for just 51 runs in his 10 overs. And with the game all but gone, he single handedly went after Australia’s bowlers to give his dressing room some hope. Six fours and a six gave Australia some anxious moments but the equation was always beyond Pakistan as they fell short by 20 runs.
Pakistan got more bad news after their shock defeat to Australia in the fourth ODI in Dubai with the men in green fined for a low over rate.
Centuries from debutant Abid Ali and keeper Mohammad Rizwan weren’t enough as Pakistan lost to Australia by six runs despite needing just 66 from the last 10 overs with eight wickets in hand.
On Saturday, Pakistan were fined for maintaining a slow over-rate. Match referee Jeff Crowe deemed Pakistan to be one over short.
Stand-in captain Imad Wasim, who led the side in the absence of the injured Shoaib Malik, was fined 20 per cent of his match fee while players received 10 per cent fines.
If Pakistan commit another over-rate offence in an ODI within 12 months with Imad as captain, the left-arm spinner will face suspension.
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.