2nd ODI: Babar Azam, Imam-ul-Haq star in Pakistan’s series levelling win over Australia
Lahore : Centuries from Imam-ul-Haq (106) and Babar Azam (114) helped Pakistan beat Australia by six wickets in the second ODI and level the three-match series 1-1, here on Thursday. It was Pakistan’s first win against Australia since 2017 also their highest successful run chase in ODIs. Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl. It took just three deliveries for new-ball sensation Afridi to strike, pinning Aussie captain Finch in-front of his stumps for a golden duck. But that lightning start proved the last bright moment for some time for the home side, as Travis Head and McDermott put together a dominant 162-run partnership to set a platform for a huge total. Head continued his outstanding form with a brisk 89 from 70 balls, falling short of his ton when caught at short fine leg off Zahid Mahmood.
However, Head’s departure didn’t deter McDermott, who progressed to a richly-deserved century (104). Australia built well on the platform set by McDermott and Head, with Marnus Labuschagne hitting 59 from 49 and Marcus Stoinis smashing 49 from 33. But the chances of boosting the score up into the high 300s were hurt by the return of Afridi, who took three wickets in the last five overs to restrict the score to 348/8, with Afridi finishing with stand-out figures of 4/63.
In reply, Pakistan got off to a very solid start as the openers put on 118 for the first wicket in a terrific opening stand. It was Marcus Stoinis who got the breakthrough, cleaning up Fakhar Zaman for 67. But the wicket brought Babar to the crease, and Pakistan’s white-ball maestro set about another superb ODI innings as he formed a 11-run partnership with Imam. The opener fell six runs after his century, with his 106 coming from 97 deliveries. But Babar ensured the progress towards the target was almost serene. The skipper fell with work still to be done, but his outstanding 114 from 83 balls had given his team a terrific chance, and they got the job done. The required rate was just beginning to creep up when Khushdil Shah unleashed, with his 27 from 17 balls helping Pakistan close to the target. And Iftikhar Ahmed’s punch back down the ground sent the winning runs to the rope with six balls and six wickets in hand.
Brief scores: Australia 348/8 in 50 overs (Travis Head 89, Ben McDermott 104, Marnus Labuschagne 59, Marcus Stoinis 49, Sean Abbott 28; Shaheen Afridi 4-63, Mohammad Wasim Jr 2-56) lost to Pakistan 352/4 in 49 overs (Fakhar Zaman 67, Imam-ul-Haq 106, Babar Azam 114; Adam Zampa 2-71) by 6 wickets