by: Atika Mehboob TN Sport Pakistan:
Australia’s consistent gameplay was evident as they secured a routine win against Pakistan. Although the game at moments showed signs of turning into a nail-biter, the colossal innings from David Warner and Mitchell Marsh made it an uphill battle for Pakistan. While Pakistan did show resilience, with an initial 134-run opening partnership between Imam-ul-Haq and Abdullah Shafique, their hope began to wane as Australia’s Adam Zampa delivered by claiming four wickets for the second time in a row. Mohammad Rizwan and Iftikhar Ahmed’s efforts to steer the ship went in vain, leading to Pakistan’s 62-run deficit at the end.
The tone of the match was arguably set during the first half itself. With Marsh hitting a formidable six off Shaheen in the first over and Warner getting a lucky escape, it seemed the scales were tilted in Australia’s favor. Warner, batting at 10, gave a catch opportunity to mid-off where Usama Mir, unfortunately, missed it. This moment of dropped catch seemingly brought despair to the Pakistani camp.
Subsequently, Pakistan’s defense appeared shaky. Warner got another life when Shafique missed his catch, and then Babar Azam failed to hold onto Steven Smith’s. However, not everything went south for Pakistan; Shaheen Afridi managed to take down heavy hitters like Marsh and Glenn Maxwell. His performance was the silver lining for Pakistan, especially in the game’s final third, where the Aussie run rate plummeted.
Warner’s significant inning, almost touching his highest ODI score, and Australia crossing the 350 mark, showed their dominance. Yet, the expected further surge in their run rate was halted, mainly due to Afridi’s exceptional death bowling, taking five wickets and almost achieving a hat-trick twice. The concluding overs saw only 29 runs, giving Pakistan a momentum boost as they headed into the break, but it was Australia who had the last laugh.