Fakhar Zaman Australia Pakistan Zimbabwe tri series T20
Fakhar Zaman was named Player of the Match as well as Player of the Series © AFP

Fakhar Zaman cracked a career-best 91 to help set up Pakistan’s 6-wicket win over Australia in the final of the Zimbabwe T20 Tri-Series at Harare Sports Club on Sunday. Zaman shared in a century stand with Shoaib Malik as Pakistan recovered from an early wobble in their pursuit of Australia’s 183 for 8, and Malik then showed all the experience of an 18-year international career to see his team home with an unbeaten 43.

It looked as though Australia had produced a masterstroke in opening the bowling with Glenn Maxwell’s off-spin as debutant Sahibzada Farhan was stumped off the first ball he faced and Hussain Talat sliced a catch to point 3 balls later to derail Pakistan’s chase.

Australia threatened to storm to victory, but Zaman quickly set about re-building the innings. First, he added 45 with captain Sarfraz Ahmed to take his team out of immediate danger; he then added 107 for the fourth wicket with Malik to seize the advantage for Pakistan.

When Zaman fell cutting out to deep cover, Pakistan still needed 30 from 24, but while Malik remained at the crease their chase was always safe.

Their ultimate victory capped a mixed day for Pakistan. Australia captain Aaron Finch was given a first-ball reprieve when he was dropped by Malik in the deep after top-edging a hook, and several misfields allowed any pressure with the new ball to be immediately dissipated. Finch punished Pakistan for their errors by cracking two fours and three sixes during the course of a 95-run opening stand.

Their errors allowed Australia to get off to a flier, with Finch putting together a 95-run opening stand with D’Arcy Short. Short was also dropped just after he had reached a 39-ball fifty, but he could not better his previous T20I high score of 76 and Pakistan’s bowling at the death kept Australia in check.

Between their blunders, Pakistan also offered enough glimpses of brilliance in the field to prevent Australia running away with the game. Having dropped Short previously, Shadab Khan pulled off a one-handed stunner at mid off to get rid of Alex Carey, and Pakistan finally found their mojo to run through Australia’s lower middle order.

Mohammad Aamer took two wickets in the final over to finish with 3 for 33, the pick of Pakistan’s attack as Australia slipped from 95 for 0 after 10 overs and 146 for 2 in the 16th. Australia lost their last 8 wickets for for 88. Their 183 for 8 was not quite enough to better Pakistan in the final analysis.

Brief scores:

Australia 183 for 8 in 20 overs [D'Arcy Short 76(53), Aaron Finch 47(27); Mohammad Aamer 4-0-33-3, Shadab Khan 4-0-38-1] lost to Pakistan 187 for 4 in 19.2 overs [Fakhar Zaman 91(46), Shoaib Malik 43*(37); Glenn Maxwell 3-0-25-2, Jhye Richardson 4-0-29-1] by 6 wickets with 4 balls to spare.

Australia 183 for 8 in 20 overs [D'Arcy Short 76(53), Aaron Finch 47(27); Mohammad Aamer 4-0-33-3, Shadab Khan 4-0-38-1] lost to Pakistan 187 for 4 in 19.2 overs [Fakhar Zaman 91(46), Shoaib Malik 43*(37); Glenn Maxwell 3-0-25-2, Jhye Richardson 4-0-29-1] by 6 wickets with 4 balls to spare.

Player of the Match: Fakhar Zaman.
Player of the Series: Fakhar Zaman.