Harare: Shaheen Afridi took three wickets as Pakistan completed a clinical 45-run victory over Australia on Thursday in the Twenty20 tri-series in Zimbabwe.
Pakistan batted first and opener Fakhar Zaman registered a career-best 73 as they raced to 194 for 7.
Then left-arm seamer Afridi starred with three wickets as the bowlers held Australia to 149 for 7 in a match which was effectively a dress rehearsal for Sunday’s final.
Pakistan lost Haris Sohail for a golden duck after being put in to bat on a chilly midwinter morning in Harare, but Zaman and Hussain Talat wrested back control back with a rapid 72-run stand.
Talat cracked three fours and a six before playing one shot too many to be bowled by Glenn Maxwell’s offspin.
Zaman continued to middle his aggressive strokes and went to a 33-ball fifty, his third for Pakistan in this format, with a slog sweep for six, while another big hit off Andrew Tye’s seamers took the batsman past his previous best of 61.
An edged four took Pakistan beyond 130, and Zaman into the 70s, in the 15th over, but he pulled the next ball he faced straight to Maxwell on the edge of the circle at midwicket.
The quick dismissal of captain Sarfraz Ahmad, edging a Tye legcutter into the hands of wicketkeeper Alex Carey, put a further dent in Pakistan’s batting, but the experienced Shoaib Malek ensured that the runs kept flowing.
He hit 15 off the 17th over, bowled by Marcus Stoinis, boosting Pakistan beyond 150. After he fell, Asif Ali struck three fours and two sixes in an unbeaten 37 to keep the pressure on Australia right to the end of the innings.
Pakistan kept the pressure up with the ball too, Afridi taking the vital early wicket of Aaron Finch when the Australian captain had made just 16.
Bowling from the Golf Course End, Afridi swung and seamed the ball prodigiously to trouble the batsmen. He trapped Glenn Maxwell lbw, and then rattled D’Arcy Short’s stumps as Australia slipped to 75 for 5.
Their chase never recovered from the early losses, with the rest of Pakistan’s attack chipping in with wickets in a much improved performance.
“Credit to Fakhar,” said Sarfraz. “He was superb. Today’s surface wasn’t the easiest. Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik did a job for us, too.”
Finch said: “We didn’t get going all day, we were a long way off with the ball and on the field. We couldn’t then get any partnerships with the bat. This was a 170 wicket, we let them get away. They stuck to basic plans and did well.”
Fakhar Zaman c Maxwell b Stoinis 73
Haris Sohail c Short b Richardson 0
Hussain Talat b Maxwell 30
Sarfraz Ahmed c Carey b Tye 14
Shoaib Malik c Finch b Tye 27
Asif Ali not out 37
Faheem Ashraf c Maxwell b Richardson 0
Shadab Khan c Stoinis b Tye 7
Mohammad Amir not out 0
Extras: (6w) 6
TOTAL: (for 7 wickets) 194
Fall of wickets: 1-8, 2-80, 3-107, 4-132, 5-158, 6-176, 7-190.
Did not bat: Shaheen Afridi, Usman Khan.
Bowling: Billy Stanlake 4-0-30-0, Jhye Richardson 4-0-43-2 (4w), Andrew Tye 4-0-35-3 (1w), Marcus Stoinis 3-0-29-1 (1w), Glenn Maxwell 3-0-30-1, Ashton Agar 2-0-27-0
D’Arcy Short b Afridi 28
Aaron Finch c Ahmed b Afridi 16
Travis Head b Ashraf 7
Glenn Maxwell lbw b Afridi 10
Nic Maddinson st Ahmed b Shadab Khan 5
Marcus Stoinis c Asif Ali b Usman Khan 16
Alex Carey not out 37
Ashton Agar b Amir 11
Andrew Tye not out 12
Extras: (5lb, 2w) 7
TOTAL: (for 7 wickets) 149
Fall of wickets: 1-29, 2-38, 3-49, 4-67, 5-75, 6-106, 7-131.
Did not bat: Jhye Richardson, Billy Stanlake.
Bowling: Mohammad Amir 4-0-25-1, Faheem Ashraf 4-0-30-1, Shaheen Afridi 4-0-37-3 (1w), Shadab Khan 4-0-26-1, Usman Khan 4-0-26-1 (1w)