It needed Billy Stanlake’s best-ever figures in cricket to pause Pakistan’s smooth sail in the shortest format, as Australia claimed a resounding victory against the number-one ranked side, at the Harare Sports Club on Monday (July 2), with yawning ease. This is only Pakistan’s second loss in their last 13 games in T20I cricket.
Playing their first game of the tri-series, Australia opted to bowl under bright blue skies and the intention of doing so was to take maximum advantage of the early conditions on offer. The Big Billy Stanlake vindicated his skipper’s verdict with a rip-roaring spell that saw Pakistan lose their top four batsmen inside seven overs. Stanlake ran in with ferocious rhythm and caused all sorts of problems with his bustling pace and bounce; the 23-year old recorded figures of 4 for 8 in his four overs leaving Pakistan no room to recover and thereby, setting the perfect tone to the game and the series.
After the early wobble, Pakistan desperately needed a partnership but a terrible misjudgment from Asif Ali cost his team the wicket of Shoaib Malik who looked promising in his brief stay at the crease in his 100th T20I. Soon after, Asif Ali gifted his wicket attempting a vacuous cross-bat slog and the seventh-wicket partnership of 31 between Faheem Ashraf and Shadab Khan only succeeded in saving some blushes in an otherwise sorry-looking scorecard.
Chasing 117, Australia rocketed 35 runs in no-time. And with Pakistan bowlers proving ineffective, skipper Aaron Finch belted a quick-fire fifty [33-ball 68] to seal the deal with 55 balls to spare, thus, registering the biggest win (in terms of balls remaining) against Pakistan in T20Is. Hasan Ali managed to remove D’Arcy Short in his first over, but all of it accounted for nothing but his birthday present.
Australia will now face the hosts Zimbabwe on Tuesday while Pakistan will have a day off before squaring off against the home team on Wednesday (July 4).
Brief scores: Pakistan 116 all-out in 19.5 overs (Shadab Khan 29; Billy Stanlake 4-8, Andrew Tye 3-38) lost to Australia 117/1 in 10.5 overs (Finch 68*; Hasan Ali 1-18) by 9 wickets.
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