Harare — Australia’s climb up the Twenty20 rankings has been halted by a red-hot Pakistan, who won their tri-series final in Zimbabwe by six wickets yesterday.
Aaron Finch’s team posted a competitive total of 183-8 at Harare Sports Club and looked on track for a memorable victory by taking two wickets in the first over.
But the surprise success of opening the bowling with Glenn Maxwell’s off-spin didn’t last as Pakistan opening batsman Fakhar Zaman blasted a sublime 91 from 46 balls.
Zaman combined with veteran Shoaib Malik (43 not out) for a fourth-wicket partnership of 107 as Pakistan passed Australia’s total with four balls to spare — their highest successful run chase in T20Is.
The pair punished the bowling of Ashton Agar and Jack Wildermuth with 16 runs each in consecutive overs midway through the innings to set Pakistan on their way to victory.
Zaman was named player of the series for hitting 278 runs at an average of 55.6.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for Pakistan as Zaman lost his opening partner Sahibzada Farhan, who was stumped off a wide on his first ball in international cricket.
Earlier, recalled opening batsman D’Arcy Short responded from being dropped for the final group game by hitting 76 from 53 balls to boost Australia’s innings.
Short put on 95 for the first wicket with Finch (47 from 27 balls) despite him struggling for momentum early in his innings.
But when the pair were dismissed, Australia’s momentum nosedived as they managed just 6-46 from their last five overs.
”I thought we should’ve got up around 200,” Finch said after the game.
”Towards the end they bowled really well and we just kept losing a few wickets which stalls your momentum a touch.
”I thought we started off very well with the ball but we probably lost our way in the middle there, Fakhar Zaman played a hell of a knock.”
Pakistan didn’t help themselves with some sloppy fielding, which included dropping Finch on the first ball he faced.
Mohammad Amir was Pakistan’s best bowler with a haul of 3-33, including two wickets in the final over, to ensure Australia didn’t get to 200