Abu Dhabi: Pakistan thrashed Australia by seven wickets at the Zayed Cricket Stadium here on Friday night to level the three-match One Day International series at 1-1 ahead of Monday’s final game in Sharjah.
Chasing Australia’s total of 248 for 9, Pakistan sailed home with 38 balls to spare to avenge their defeat at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium last week.
The heroes of Pakistan’s victory were opener Nasir Jamshed, who cracked a brilliant 97 off 98 balls with 11 boundaries, and Azhar Ali, who remained unconquered with 59 off 86 balls with four boundaries. Pakistan spinner Saeed Ajmal continued to be Australia’s tormentor as he bagged four wickets for 32 runs.
For Australia, Mike Hussey top scored with 61 off 72 balls with one boundary and two sixes, but a chest injury to their strike bowler Mitchell Starc, who could not even bowl his full quota of overs, and the heavy dew, which made gripping of the ball tough, scuttled their plans of wrapping up the series with a game to spare.
Pakistan, who lost the services of Shahid Afridi to a back injury, which he incurred during a practice session on Thursday, included left-arm spinner Abdul Rahman in his place. Pacer Junaid Khan came in for Aizaz Cheema.
After Australia won the toss and committed the mistake of batting first, Khan bowled beautifully and forced Matthew Wade to play uppishly to Umar Akmal at point. He escaped being caught on that occasion, but the very next ball he dragged on to his stumps for seven.
Captain Michael Clarke and David Warner put on 66 runs in 18.1 overs, but Ajmal provided the breakthrough by trapping Warner leg before for 24.
Hussey began positively by hitting an Ajmal full toss for a six over deep mid-wicket.
With the score on 86, Mohammad Hafeez took the prize wicket of Clarke, trapping him leg before. David Hussey then lasted just two balls before becoming another Ajmal victim as Australia slipped from a commanding 74 for one to 87 for four.
George Bailey, who played a pivotal role in Pakistan’s victory in Sharjah with an unbeaten half-century, once again kept his head down and hit a composed 39, adding 66 for the fifth wicket with Mike Hussey.
After Rahman had Bailey caught and bowled, Glenn Maxwell went for his shots, hitting Rahman for two successive sixes as Australia went past the 200 run mark in the 44th over.
Hussey and Maxwell added 58 in just eight overs for the sixth wicket before Ajmal took out Hussey’s middle stump. Maxwell followed, stumped by Kamran Akmal off Ajmal for 28 as Australia were restricted to 249.
Chasing a run rate of 4.96 per over, Pakistan got off to a fine start, with openers Hafeez and Jamshed putting on 66 in 11.1 overs.
Dan Christian ended the partnership by forcing Hafeez to offer a catch to Mike Hussey at deep square leg for 23.
Jamshed reached his sixth half-century, with Ali playing the supporting role. By the half-way mark, Pakistan needed only 99 more.
As Jamshed reached closer to his century, he began to suffer from cramps and, after putting on 101 with Ali in 16.4 overs, he hit a Mitchell Johnson delivery straight to Starc at mid-off when on 97.
The in-form Assad Shafiq got a thick inside edge on to his stumps off Pattinson for nine when Pakistan still needed 59 runs from 94 balls. Skipper Misbah-ul-Haq hit two fours off Pattinson to lessen the pressure before Ali reached his 14th half-century and the pair ushered in the victory.