LAHORE: A 190-run unbroken partnership between centurion Babar Azam and Imam ul Haq 89 not out helped Pakistan overhaul a below-par total of 210 in 37.5 overs and win an ODI series against Australia after 20 years.
Pakistan beat Australia in a bilateral ODI series in Australia in 2002 while winning a one-off series against the same rivals on home soil some 34 years back in 1998. The series has earned Pakistan 20 points in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super Series.
Babar Azam and Imam ul Haq continued from where they had left in the second ODI and scored 105 (115) not out and 89 (100) runs not out respectively. Australia must rue a missed opportunity when Babar Azam was dropped on the individual score of 1 by Travis Head off Jason Behrendorff at short mid-wicket in the fifth over of the innings.
Babar Azam never looked back and went on to score the 16th century of his 86th match ODI career. His 105 runs innings was laced with 12 boundaries while Imam ul Haq hit 6 boundaries and a six in his innings.
Pakistan’s victory was spearheaded by Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf who had rattled Australian top order in a fearsome opening spell. Nathan Ellis was the only successful bowler for Australia who got the better of Fakhar Zaman 17 (12) in the fourth over of the innings. All other bowlers including Jason Bherendorff 9-0-51-0, Adam Zampa 9-0-50-0, Cameron Green 3-0-19-0, Travis Head 2-0-9-0, Sean Abbott 3-0-15-0 and Marnus Labuschagne 5.5-0-31-0 remained wicket less.
Earlier, Sean Abbot steered the Australian ship to the safer shores to post a total above 200 through some lusty hitting after lost were reduced to 166-9 courtesy some fearsome fast bowling by the Pakistani trio of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf and Mohammad Wasim.
As the sun waned on the Gaddafi Stadium, the Australian innings also came to a close with the fall of Abbot who was caught at short third man off Haris Rauf for 49 (40).
The Australian innings could never recover from the jolts of the early wickets when Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf rattled Australian batting line-up with three wickets in the space of 31 balls at the start of Australian innings.
Shaheen Shah Afridi sent in-form Travis Head 0 (1) back for a golden duck while Haris Rauf claimed the scalps of skipper Aaron Finch 0 (3) and Marnus Labuschagne 4 (10). The 2nd ODI centurion Ben McDermott 36 (50) and Marcus Stoinis 19 (19) partnered to score 53 runs off 46 balls before Stoinis was caught by Imam ul Haq in the covers off Zahid Mahmood. Zahid Mahmood conceded 51 runs in eight overs for one wicket.
By the time McDermott was bowled by Mohammad Wasim in the 16th over of the innings, the Australian innings stared the gallows.
But Alex Carey and Cameron Green were involved in the longest partnership of the Australian innings when they gleaned 81 runs to give some respectability to the team total after Australia had collapsed to 67-5. The fall of Cameron Green 34 (47) off an in-swinging delivery from Mohammad Wasim proved the death knell for the Australian innings as Carey 56 (61) also fell in quick succession with the team total on 155-7.
Alex Carey’s innings was a mix of caution and aggression as he anchored the Australian innings before he miscued a lofted stroke against part-time off spin of Iftikhar Ahmed and was caught at long on.
The last pair of Abbot and Zampa coined some valuable 44 runs to give Australia something to defend. Abbot was especially harsh on Afridi and took 21 runs off the 39th over including three boundaries and a six over long-on boundary.
Shaeen Shah Afridi claimed the scalp of Jason Behrendorff 2 (8) as he returned for his second spell while Mohammad Wasim got rid of Nathan Ellis 2 (4) to clinch third wicket of the match.
Mohammad Wasim was the most economical bowler of the match and conceded 40 runs for 3 wickets in his quota of 10 overs.
Buoyed by some spirited opening fast bowling spell from Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf at the start of the match and some impressive swing bowling by the Mohamamd Wasim in the middle, Pakistan team was able to restrict Australia to a below par total of 210 in the 42nd over in the last ODI of the three-match series between Pakistan and Australia.
Babar Azam won the toss for the third time in a row and put Australia to bat first yet again on the most hot afternoon of the series with the mercury soaring to 40 degree Celsius. Pakistan had made made one change to the side which won the second ODI and Asif Ali in place of Saud Shakeel. Australia also rested Swepson to play Nathan Behrendorff.
The largest crowd of the series has gathered to witness a memorable series win for Pakistan after two decades as it was in the year 2002 when Pakistan beat Australia 2-1 under the captaincy of Waqar Younus.
Babar Azam was adjudged player of the match for his match-winning knock of 105 not out besides being declared the player of the series for scoring 276 runs in the series. Imam ul Haq was picked a most valuable batter of the match.
Pakistan will meet Australia in the lone T20I of the tour on April 5 (Tuesday) at the same venue.