Finch century leads Australia to 8-wicket win over Pakistan in 1st ODI
SHARJAH – A 12th ODI hundred from the Australia captain Aaron Finch helped Australia to a comfortable eight wicket win over Pakistan in Sharjah.
Finch, ably assisted by Shaun Marsh, laid the foundations for what was ultimately a stress-free pursuit of Pakistan’s 280/5.
In retrospect, Pakistan will have mixed feelings on their first innings effort. While individually, the batsmen generally played well, they’ll be disappointed to only muster up a score of 280 having lost just four wickets.
Imamul Haq and ODI debutant Shan Masood, while starting the Pakistan innings steadily, did not make the most of the Powerplay. Imam was dismissed for a relatively sedate 27-ball 17, while Masood couldn’t make the most of his start, falling for 40 off 62 balls. At 78/2, you’d think that Pakistan could perhaps have afforded to bat with a touch more purpose.
That’s not to take anything away from Haris Sohail (101* off 115 balls) though. He played superbly to register his maiden ODI century, one that may prove pivotal to chances of World Cup selection. Alongside the recently recalled Umar Akmal, who was playing his first ODI since 2017, he adding much needed impetus to the Pakistan innings.
Akmal displayed glimpses of his immense talent, most notably by hitting Jhye Richardson for three sixes in an over. He fell two runs short of a half-century, while cameos from Faheem Ashraf (28 off 26) and Imad Wasim (28 off 13) took Pakistan to a more than respectable score of 280/5.
Australia, fresh from their mightily impressive turnaround 3-2 ODI series victory over India in India, took the run chase in their stride. Usman Khawaja and Finch got their team off to a quick start, keeping Australia well in control of the required run rate from the offing. Khawaja then fell to Ashraf for 24 to bring Shaun Marsh to the crease.
Marsh and Finch then steadily took their side towards the Pakistan total. Finch played with a degree of caution as he approached a well-deserved hundred, one that would have meant a lot to him after his near-miss of a 93 in the recent India series, but his innings meant that Australia’s win was all but sealed when he fell for 116.
Peter Handscomb came in with 46 still required for victory and he pressed his foot onto the accelerator to make sure that Australia won the game with in an over to spare. An excellent, professional win for Australia and although Pakistan will take positives from this game – Sohail’s hundred and Mohammad Abbas’ tidy 1/44 ODI debut spell – they will surely rue the start to their innings that meant that they were always playing catch-up in this contest. –ICC