Australia slipped to yet another defeat in the third and final T20I in Dubai as Pakistan secured a 3-0 win in the series.
The match, which Pakistan won by 33 runs, completed a disappointing tour for Australia, who lost the two-match Test series one-nil after a heavy defeat in Abu Dhabi.
Babar Azam’s 50 had been the highlight of Pakistan’s innings after their skipper Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss, and chasing a middling target of 151 to win Australia got off to a fantastic start.
Promoted to open in place of D’Arcy Short, who slid down the order, wicket-keeper Alex Carey smashed Imad Wasim’s first over for 20, with two fours and two sixes.
But captain Aaron Finch failed yet again – he’d made just 1 before hitting to the hands of mid-on off Faheem Ashraf in the second over. With Carey hitting a tame leading edge to mid-wicket off the first ball of the third over (which Mohammad Hafeez was bowling), the visitors’ chase was derailing fast.
Chris Lynn and Ben McDermott started to build a bit of a partnership and with a relatively modest total to attain the match quickly looked like Australia’s again. But Lynn attempted a slog sweep to Shadab Khan’s first delivery – the eight over – and hit it down the throat of deep mid-wicket for 15. Three balls later, with Glenn Maxwell having replaced Lynn, McDermott got himself run out for the third successive time in his third T20I. Hitting to cover and running, once he realised Maxwell wasn’t interested it was too late, and he had to depart for what had been a decent 21 off 20 balls.
Maxwell didn’t last long either, clothing Shadab to long-on first ball of the 10th over to leave Australia 75/5, but in Mitchell Marsh and D’Arcy Short – a more than handy duo at six and seven – their hopes remained very much alive.
With that pair at the crease Pakistan required 59 from the last six overs, and with Shadab keeping it tight, Marsh couldn’t get the access he wanted and hit a straight ball to the hands of Shoaib Malik diving forward at long-on to give to leg-spinner his third wicket. Though Short got a boundary away later the same over, he was out first ball of the next, smacking Usman Khan to deep mid-wicket where 37-year-old Malik again took a superb sliding catch. Coulter-Nile was run out first ball to make the score 100/8, and the game was pretty much up for Australia, who seemed demoralised. Shadad ended with the superb figures of 3/18 from his four and Australia were bowled out for 117, Zampa the last to fall.
It hadn’t been plain sailing for Pakistan with the bat. Sure, after Safraz won the toss on a turning surface, Babar Azam and Sahibzada Farhan – the latter was selected in place of Fakhar Zaman for this final match – got off to something of a flier.
While the first two overs brought just 10 runs, Babar in particular opened his shoulders, and when Farhan smashed Andrew Tye for six over long-on last ball of the sixth over, Pakistan ended the batting Powerplay on 54/0.
From then on though, the wrist-spin combination of D’Arcy Short (left-arm) and Adam Zampa (right-arm) held back the scoring rate with some tight bowling, although Farhan did get Zampa away for an almighty slog-swept maximum over cow corner in the 12th over.
The 22-year-old was out for a 38-ball 39 soon after, spooning a Lyon full toss to Tye at deep mid-off.
In the very next over Babar chopped a Tye slower ball on to his stumps for a well-made 50 off 40 balls, and having squeezed the scoring Australia were now in an ideal situation.
Hafeez hit well to end not out on 32 from just 20 balls, while Malik chipped in with a valuable 18. It was Australia’s bowlers who seemed to have the most impressive stats, Zampa the standout with 1/25 from his four overs. But once their own batsmen had tried and failed to salvage a win from this disappointing tour, it was clear that Pakistan’s total had been quite sufficient.
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