Pakistan beats Australia in T20 tri-series final by 6 wkts
HARARE, Zimbabwe (AP) Opening batsman Fakhar Zaman smashed 91 off 46 balls as No. 1-ranked Pakistan romped to six-wicket win over Australia in the Twenty20 tri-series final on Sunday.
Left-hander Zaman’s third half century in the tournament included 12 fours and three sixes that lifted Pakistan to 187-4 with four balls to spare – its highest ever successful run chase in a T20.
All-rounder Glenn Maxwell had reduced Pakistan to 2-2 in the first over but Zaman and Shoaib Malik, who scored an unbeaten 43, shared a century stand to see Pakistan home.
Australia, which won the toss and elected to bat, made 183-8 with openers D’Arcy Short scoring 76 and captain Aaron Finch making 47.
Pakistan came back strongly after dropping Finch off the first ball and giving Short a life soon after he completed his half century.
Mohammad Amir took 3-33 and leg-spinner Shadab Khan got 2-38 as Australia lost wickets in clusters in the latter half of its innings.
”It’s a great team effort, credit to the bowlers,” Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed said. ”There were some dropped catches but we took the momentum in the second innings.”
Off-spinner Maxwell had debutante Sahibzada Farhan stumped off a down the leg side wide delivery and then Hussain Talat sliced an easy catch to backward point as both batsmen went without scoring.
But Ahmed and Zaman revived the innings with a 45-run stand before Ahmed was run out after scoring 28 while going for a needless third run in the sixth over.
Zaman and Malik took time to settle down but took charge after 10 overs as Australia’s main wicket-takers Billy Stanlake (0-25) and Andrew Tye (0-33) both ended up wicketless.
Spinner Ashton Agar (0-16) and the inexperienced Jack Wildermuth (016) were taken out of the attack after conceding 32 runs in two overs as Zaman completed his half century off 30 balls with a straight six off Agar’s left-arm spin.
Zaman, who put on 107 runs off 64 balls with Malik, finally holed out at deep backward point while going for a big shot off seamer Jhye Richardson.
”I’ve played here in 2016, the wickets were not that good then,” Zaman said. ”Hard work in nets is the main thing. I take time at the start and play my natural game.”
Earlier, Malik dropped Finch off the first ball before the Australia captain and Short put on 95 runs off 59 balls.
But Pakistan struck regularly in the last 10 overs once Shadab broke the opening stand when Finch was caught at covers.
Inexperienced Shaheen Afridi, 18, dismissed Short in the 17th over and Amir struck twice in the last over to restrict Australia.
”I thought we should have got around 200 but we just kept losing the wickets, which stalled the momentum,” Finch said.
”I thought we started well with the ball but Fakhar Zaman played one hell of a knock and a 90-odd in a T20 game is hard to beat.”