Dubai: Pakistan are themselves to blame for the loss against Australia - for not playing smart cricket and making some elementary mistakes. Though the late order gave a glimmer of hope for Pakistan to pull off an incredible win, the loss of four wickets in a five-over spell was the turning point that kicked off the downhill slide, which proved their undoing in the final analysis.
After taking control of the chase, at 136 for two, Imam-ul-Haq got out pulling a wide ball on to the leg stump and nine balls later, Mohammad Hafeez hit part-time spinner and captain Aaron Finch straight to Mitchell Starc to deep square leg. Once the partnership was broken, the Pakistan innings was in disarray, losing two more wickets to slump to 160 for six.
Needing 170 runs in 25 overs, it was the unwanted bravado that caused Pakistan’s downfall. At a time when Australians were losing control of the match after Kane Richardson and Glenn Maxwell were leaking runs at a faster pace, Finch was lucky that his changes paid dividends.
One has to feel for Hassan Ali and Wahab Riaz as their brave knocks brought Pakistan close to the target, but could it not take their team past the line. They were waging a difficult battle as they are aware that the fall of a wicket or two is enough to bring their innings to an end. Starc repeated the act he performed against the West Indies, claiming two wickets in an over, to hasten the end. The left-arm pacer dismissed the dangerous Riaz and Mohammad Amir in the same over, while he had Carlos Brathwaite and Jason Holder in one over in the close win against the West Indies.
The knocks of Ali and Riaz proved that with a bit of application from the regular batsmen, Pakistan could have easily won the match against the defending champions, especially coming in after defeating the tournament favourites England in their previous encounter played (Note: Pakistan’s last match against Sri Lanka was a washout!)
Luck certainly was on Finch’s side today as the Australian captain was dropped twice, once he was on 26 and against by captain Sarfaraz Ahmad at 44. It was the opening partnership between Finch and centurion David Warner that enabled the Australians to take the score past the 300-run mark. An early breakthrough could have helped the Pakistan bowlers to put the break on the Australian innings and curtailed them to a lower score.
On a positive note, the 1992 champions came back strongly against England and shocked the hosts after suffering a humiliating loss to the West Indies in their opener. So one hopes that Pakistan will be producing a similar display against the arch-rivals India in their next encounter on Sunday.