Bengaluru: A sensational 259-run opening stand of centurions David Warner and Mitchell Marsh guided Australia to gain a crucial 62 runs victory over Pakistan to ripen their chances to storm into qualifications of the ICC Men’s World Cup at Chinnaswamy stadium here on Friday.
Adam Zampa too had a greater role in the victory with a match-winning spell for Australia. He was fabulous early on by getting rid of Babar Azam and then hardly giving runs.
Zampa’s final spell was even more special as he trapped Iftikhar Ahmed (26) and Mohammad Rizwan (46) LBW in consecutive overs, before sealing the deal by having Mohammad Nawaz (14) stumped. The leggie finished with figures of 53/4 in 10 overs.
Abdullah Shafique and Imam-ul-Haq set the platform with a magnificent 134 runs stand for the opening wicket, though they did not get to their centuries as Marsh and Warner did for Australia.
However, the middle order just couldn’t carry on till the end. Nevertheless, there were beautiful shots from Saud Shakeel (30 off 31), Iftikhar Ahmed (26) and Rizwan.
Australia openers scored runs freely on a pitch that did not have much for the Pakistani bowlers on offer, though Warner had an early scare when he was dropped by Usama Mir, and made them pay for it.
Pakistan, led by their prime pacer Shaheen Afridi, fought back towards the end as he recorded his first five-wicket haul to emerge as top bowler for his side.
As it got older, the new Australian batsmen laboured hard to get their rhythm as the ball was holding into the wicket. The reinvigorated Shaheen picked up wickets on a regular basis, and at one point he was on a hat-trick.
Haris Rauf also came back strongly in death overs after getting thrashed for 56 runs in his first 4 overs. These little efforts stifled Australia who lost 6 wickets for 70 runs in the final 10 overs.
Australian openers took advantage of Pakistan errors on the field as Shaheed lost a review for Pakistan when the straight umpire as well turned down his shout for leg before against David Warner off the very first ball.
Warner got yet another life in the fifth over when Usama dropped a dolly on the on-side when the Aussie opener was batting on 10. In the meanwhile, both the batsmen managed to take off on a good batting track.
Marsh was merciless in Rauf’s first over as he pounded a hat-trick of boundaries, and Warner smacked a spectacular crouched six, plundering 24 runs.
The introduction of spinners also did not change their approach as Warner and Marsh, milking runs through the gaps and severely dealing loose balls on offer outside the ground.
Warner reached his fifty in the 13th over, whereas Marsh achieved that milestone in the 15th over. At the mid-innings stage, all six Pakistan bowlers had been hit for a boundary by the duo.
The Australia duo seemed unstoppable after the 25-over mark. They added 87 runs off the next 52 balls.
It was Shaheen who finally brought a breakthrough for Pakistan, getting Marsh (121) caught at short fine leg. One brought two, as Maxwell tried to loft the pacer off the very next ball, but could only reach Babar at mid-on.
Warner threatened to surpass his own highest ODI score as he continued to rack up the runs, but was finally undone by one of his big shots, holing out off Haris Rauf for a majestic 163 (124 balls).
Pakistan’s comeback trail continued with Josh Inglish managing almost run-a-ball 13 runs in the final dozen overs. Marcus Stoinis (21), Inglis (13), Marnus Labuschagne (8), Mitchell Starc (2) and Josh Hazlewood (0) all departed, as Pakistan’s pace duo ripped through the tail.
Shaheen twice took two in two balls across the course of the innings, finishing with 5/54 from his ten overs, while Rauf bounced back well from his disastrous first over to finish with figures of 3/83.
In reply, Pakistan openers Shafique and Imam gave a good start for Pakistan, leveraging some pointless bowling in the first five overs, especially off Mitchell Starc who gave away 28 of his first three overs.
Both the batsmen went into a shell on Josh Hazlewood and Adam Zampa’s arrival, with a big chance went abegging from Shafique’s blade off Pat Cummins bowling. Sean Abbot was too much engrossed with the ropes, stepped on it before taking the catch, but the ball went in and popped out over the ropes.
The century partnership came about in the 17th over, but soon after Marcus Stoinis provided the first blow by removing Shafique for 64 with his very first delivery of the match.
Stoinis again scalped Imam-Ul-Haq for 70, caught in the deep, leaving Pakistan 154/2 approaching the midway point of their reply. Imam was lucky to have been dropped by Cummins off Glenn Maxwell at mid-wicket when he was on 48.
The onus then shifted on their trusted soldiers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, as the asking rate climbed. Both got the runs quickly and tried to tonk Australia’s fifth and sixth bowling options.
But Zampa picked up Babar’s prize wicket for 18 to leave Pakistan needing another special chase from their lower middle order, with the required scoring rate climbing to almost nine-an-over with 20 overs of the chase remaining.
Pakistan still had hope of pulling off a huge chase, but Zampa’s excellence disrupted their approach to the final ten overs.
First the spinner removed the dangerous Iftikhar Ahmed for 26. And then he prized out the crucial scalp of Rizwan for 46 to leave Pakistan needing something remarkable from their tail.
And Zampa had Nawaz stumped off the very final ball of his ten-over spell. Soon Australia pacers returned to clean up the tail, bowling Pakistan all out for 305 with 27 balls still remaining.
The deficit was enough to see Australia narrowly move past Pakistan in the table on net run rate, with both teams right in the mix in a packed middle of the table in the race for the qualification spots.