Imam and Babar script Pakistan's highest ODI run-chase to defeat Australia
LAHORE (92 News) - Pakistan hit back with a vengeance when they recorded their highest successful ODI run-chase to defeat Australia by six wickets to level the three-match ODI series at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq scored his second successive century of the series, first Pakistan batter to achieve this feat against Australia, and world No.1 Babar reached the magical three figures for the 15th time in 50-over cricket as Pakistan raced to the 349-run target with six balls to spare.
Eight years ago at the Sher-e-Bangla Stadium in Mirpur, Pakistan had scored 329 to win by three wickets with one ball to spare. Pakistan’s other big successful run-chase was against India in Mohali in November 2007 when they scored 322 to win by four wickets with one ball remaining.
This was Pakistan’s fifth highest match aggregate. They were previously involved in 734-run, 719-run, 717-run (all against England in England) and 709-run (against Zimbabwe in Lahore) thrillers. Overall, this was the 25th highest match aggregate in 4380 ODIs to date.
The victory put Pakistan back on No.6 in the ICC ODI Team Rankings, while the 10 win points lifted them from 11th to eighth in the ICC Men’s Cricket World Cup Super League.
Imam scored 106 runs from 97 balls with six punishing fours and three towering sixes, while Babar scored 114 from 83 balls with 11 eloquent fours and a massive six.
Imam put on 118 runs from 113 balls for the first wicket with Fakhar Zaman, who scored an attractive 64-ball 67 with seven fours and two sixes, while his second wicket stand with Babar yielded 111 runs from 92 balls.
Following the departure of Imam, Babar kept the pressure on the accelerator as he put on 80 runs for the third wicket from 61 balls with Mohammad Rizwan, who scored 26-ball 23.
When Imam fell, Pakistan required 120 runs off 15.5 overs, while 40 runs were required off 34 balls when Babar’s impressive innings ended. When Rizwan perished, Pakistan needed 32 runs from 25 balls, which later became 27 off 18 balls.
Nonetheless, Khushdil Shah (27 off 17 balls with two fours and two sixes) kept a cool head on his shoulders and made sure there were no further loses as he got the required runs in 19 balls. Iftikhar Ahmed was the other not out batter with eight off seven balls.
Imam and Babar, the local lads, matched each other stroke by stroke as they sent Australia on a leather chase to provide full entertainment to around 20,000 spectators.
While Imam reached his half-century from 50 balls with two fours and two sixes, Babar reached his 50 from 42 balls with three fours and a six. Imam’s century came off 90 balls with six fours and three sixes, Babar reached his century from 73 balls with 10 fours and a six.
Earlier, for the second successive time, Babar Azam put Australia into bat and though Shaheen Shah Afridi handed Australia captain Aaron Finch a golden duck, the decision appeared to have backfired when the visitors sprinted to 200 for two in 29.1 overs with a total of around 400 firmly within their sights.
However, Pakistan bowlers bounced back strongly as they conceded 148 runs in the remaining 20.5 overs to restrict Australia to 348 for eight.
Shaheen Shah Afridi finished as the pick of bowlers with four for 63, while Mohammad Wasim snapped up two wickets for 56.
Ben McDermott had a day to remember when he recorded his maiden century in fourth match while scoring a 108-ball 104 that included 10 fours and four sixes.
Travis Head followed up his 101 on Tuesday with a 70-ball 89 with six fours and five sixes, Labuschagne scored 59 off 49 balls with five fours and Marcus Stoinis contributed a 33-ball 49 with five fours and a six.
Australia scored their last 48 runs in 29 balls, thanks to Sean Abbott’s 28 off 16 balls with four fours.
Australia’s biggest partnership was for the second wicket when Head and McDermott put on 162 runs from 144 balls. For the third wicket, McDermott and Labuschagne put on 74 runs from 63 balls, while Stoinis and Abbott were involved in a 42-run partnership for the seventh wicket from 23 balls.