Hosts Australia continued their winning run in the home summer as they took a 1-0 lead in the 3 match T20I series after defeating Pakistan quite convincingly in the 2nd encounter by 7 wickets. The home team romped to a victory courtesy a sublime knock of 80 from the blade of Steve Smith, as they chased down the target of 151 in the penultimate over of the match.
The former Aussie skipper continued his dream return to international cricket as he made light work of the Pakistan bowling line-up in the run chase. Earlier in the day, Pakistan rode on a late blitz from Iftikhar Ahmed to post a competitive total of 150 on the board.
The newcomer rode his luck and remained unbeaten on 62 off 34 deliveries to propel the visitors to a total of substance. The target proved to be a cakewalk for Australia in the end.
It was newly-appointed Pakistan skipper Babar Azam who won the toss and opted to bat. The skipper opened his account with a couple of exquisite shots in the 2nd over of the innings and provided some much-needed stability at the top of the order.
He added a couple more boundaries to his kitty at the end of the 3rd over as Pakistan raced to 22/0. Fakhar Zaman’s string of poor scores continued as he ended up playing an uppish drive to David Warner on mid-off in the 4th over.
Haris Sohail looked out of shape and his brief stay ended in the 5th over when Kane Richardson pouched a straight return catch. Thereafter, Pakistan never managed to get a hold on their innings.
Barring a certain Azam, the visitors kept losing wickets on the other end. They were reduced to 70/4 in the 12th over and needed a partnership. After completing a half-century Azam gave away his wicket cheaply.
However, he found an able partner in Iftikhar Ahmed as he smashed a few lusty blows towards the end overs which propelled Pakistan to a competitive score.
Iftikhar has a good record in List A matches but it was the first time he made his presence felt on the international circuit. His unbeaten knock of 62 was laced with 5 fours and 3 sixes. For Australia, Ashton Agar was the pick of the bowlers finishing with figures of 2/23.
Chasing the relatively moderate target. Australia began briskly and raced off to 21 in the first two overs. Warner smashed 4 boundaries in the 2nd over of Imad Wasim to set the tone for the hosts.
Seasoned campaigner Mohammad Amir bagged the prized wicket of Warner as he breached his defence with a brilliant full-length delivery. Smith started off with some exquisite shots. On the other hand, Pakistan managed to get the wicket of Aaron Finch which got them back into the game.
From there on, Smith took the onus on himself to get the job done for the home team. His innings oozed class and had greatness written all over it. His strokeplay, especially through the cover region, was immaculate as always.
He stitched together an important partnership with Ben McDermott which ensured Australia were in complete command of proceedings. By the time Pakistan managed to get the 3rd wicket, the match was almost sealed.
Smith eventually remained unbeaten on 80 off just 51 deliveries which was studded with 11 fours and a solitary six. It was his stunning knock which proved to be the difference between the two teams in the end. Both teams will now move to Perth to play the final encounter on Friday.
Also see – T10 schedule