With this 3-0 win, Australia have regained the No 1 spot in ICC ODI Rankings © Getty Images
With this 3-0 win, Australia have regained the No 1 spot in ICC ODI Rankings © Getty Images

By Varun Arora

Oct 13, 2014

Australia went past Pakistan by one run after the match went on to the last ball in the third One-Day International match (ODI) played at Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi on Saturday. Only two runs were needed from the last over bowled by Glenn Maxwell. Sohail Tanvir was bowled on the second ball in a wasted attempt to slam the ball. This brought in the No 11 batsman Mohammad Irfan who couldn’t score in the first three balls he played and was caught out on the last ball of the match.

Pakistan had a likeable start to their innings as the openers Sarfaraz Ahmed and Ahmed Shehzad were watchful in the beginning and added decent runs. Though, Shehzad took 13 deliveries to get off the mark but he smacked two boundaries in eighth over bowled by James Faulkner and made up for it. Sean Abbott who was fielding on mid-on dropped Shehzad in the 10th over and Shehzad celebrated it with a glorious cover drive on the next ball. But his stay on the wicket was short-lived as Xavier Doherty cleaned him up with a floater in the 12th over.

Pakistan had already escaped that delicate period and built a strong foundation. Sarfaraz and Asad Shafiq took the innings through for few overs before Sarfaraz threw away his wicket in an attempt to take an extra run towards the square-leg region in the 18th over. The over carried in more action as the new batsman was Fawad Alam was dismissed in an unusual fashion. It was a regular delivery framed in by Doherty and Steven Smith who was fielding at first slip saw Alam getting in position for the sweep shot and immediately ran towards the leg-slip position and took a swashbuckling catch.

Shafiq and Sohaib Maqsood carved the innings from there.  They both cornered the team from a breakdown and injected both stability and runs. Maqsood looked a bit rusty in the start but carried on to play his shots and gathered 14 runs from 32nd over bowled by Doherty. Shafiq was inspirational in his batting and impressed with his shot selection. There partnership added 74 runs from 89 balls before Maqsood departed in a attempt to muscle a short delivery by Kane Richardson but instead was caught by Warner.

Shafiq reached his fifty in the 34th over. The last fifty was hit by him against Ireland in May 2013. Pakistan were still under control and going swiftly before Shafiq got out LBW to a angling Faulkner delivery. The equation totally changed. Two new batsmen, Umar Amin and Shahid Afridi occupied the crease. 72 runs were required from the last 15 overs. The powerplay was introduced and Shahid Afridi tried pull away a short delivery from Faulkner and surrender his wicket in a casual manner. The run-rate dried up after his dismissal and Australian bowlers tightened the screws further with some tight bowling. Anwar Ali hit a six on the last ball of the batting powerplay which took off some pressure from the batsmen.

Two new blokes Amin and Ali played intelligent cricket and took the Pakistan innings closer to a victory. The match further took an interesting turn when Mitchell Starc bowled Amin with a sharp inswinger. Richardson bowled a tidy next over which only gave away three runs after which Pakistan required 24 runs off 24 deliveries. The match was evenly tied up at this moment. Pakistan required 17 runs from last three over in the end. Glenn Maxwell came in to bowl the 48th over.  Tanvir hit a flat six on the fifth ball of the over and brought Pakistan close to the target.  Pakistan still required 10 runs from 12 balls and George Bailey brought in Xavier Doherty to ball the penultimate over.

Earlier, Australia scored 231 runs after losing nine wickets in the allotted 50 overs after George Bailey won the toss and decided to bat first. Australian openers started on a merry note as they punched and flicked lose deliveries from Pakistan bowlers in the early overs. Australia had juiced out 48 runs in 10 overs before Aaron Finch played a lazy back foot punch straight to the mid-on fielder and walked back frustrated to the pavilion.

David Warner was then joined with Steven Smith who smacked Zulfiqar Babar for two boundaries in the 12th over. Both continued to add runs freely and Warner also reached his half-century in the 18th over when slog-sweeped Babar for  a huge six. Australia reached 100 in the 21st over and soon after the set batsman Warner threw away his wicket on the bowling of Afridi. George Bailey who came in next was dismissed early in an attempt to cream a wide delivery towards the off side. Two quick wickets evaporated the flow of runs. The welcome boundary came after 62 balls off Glenn Maxwell’s powerful strike on a Afridi full-toss. Afridi who picked the wicket of Warner struck again. This time it was Maxwell who made a move as he tried to cruise a good length delivery over square-leg but Umar Amin came in and took a brilliant catch. SSmith continued to tap the ball for singles and also reached his half-century off 68 balls. But he was running short of partners and the another wicket fell when Phil Hughes who arrived as a replacement for Maxwell perished early.

The free fall of the wickets didn’t stop here. Brad Haddin was the next one to stage a walk back to pavilion after a sharp Anwar Ali throw hit the stumps.  Australia who were cruising at one point were now reduced 159 for 6 after 37th over.  The Pakistan bowlers further dropped the pace from the ball and focused on variations which harmed the run-rate. The powerplay only gave away nine runs and claimed two wickets. Boundaries were hard to come. Smith, the chief architect of the Australian innings was dismissed in the 46th over when he came down the wicket to slam Tanvir over the covers. 200 of the team came up next in the 47th over.

The last two overs were productive as they produced 20 runs for Australia.

Brief scores:

Australia 231 for 9 in 50 overs ( Steven Smith 77, David Warner 56; Sohail Tanvir 3 for 40) beat Pakistan 230 in 50 overs (Asad Shafiq 50;  Kane Richardson 2 for 36, Glenn Maxwell 2 for 41 ) by 1 run.

Man of the Match: Glenn Maxwell

Man of the Series: Steven Smith

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(Varun Arora is a reporter with CricketCountry. He started as a medium-fast bowler, converted to an opening batsman but finally settled with his passion of writing about the game. His Twitter handle is @varunjgd)