Cricket Captain returns and so does the winning formula as we headed to UAE to face Pakistan and Zimbabwe in a T20 competition where each team plays each other twice before the two highest points team play each other in the final.
A squad, without Pat Cummins, Mitch Marsh, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazelwood (all long term injuries), gave the opportunity for experienced Sydney Sixers batsman Jordan Silk and exiled Test keeper Matt Wade a chance to don the cap alongside Silk’s team mate Dwarshuis and spinner Ashton Agar, in an attempt to find the next generation of players.
Aggressive batsman Zaman and Farhan kickstarted the tournament but the former was soon walking back as the rejuvenated Faulkner to a LBW for 5. Sohail tried to go big from the get go however the approach failed and he nicked behind to Carey for a second ball duck. Promising batsman Talat joined Farhan and set about rebuilding after the early departures. Talat played an expansive role at the expense of Tye and Zampa scoring boundaries in quick succession. Farhan played a conservative manner in second fiddle to Talat picking off the lengths and line on occasion as Tye, Zampa and Agar struggled with the foreign conditions. 95 runs had passed since the Faulkner blitz of 2-7 before part time leg spinner Short made a blitz of his own. Farhan was dismissed inexplicably playing a rash shot to a quicker leggie (52) before getting revenge on Hafeez after a first ball six with his googly striking the pad right in front (6).
Talat was unfazed and soon found himself playing second fiddle to captain Sarfraz Ahmed who played an innings memorable to those who watched and those who were sent to the car park! 61 off 24 balls. 9 fours and 3 mammoth sixes which catapulted Pakistan to an above par 187 with Talat finishing on a mature 60 not out in a punishing 80 run partnership.
Momentum is an important part of cricket and soon Pakistan were in full control as they knocked over the successful partnership of Short (1) and Finch (6) before ODI centurion Carey (0) departed leaving the Aussies reeling at 3-28. All three wickets taken by Hasan Ali in a fast bowling spell of fire. Travis Head walked to the wicket in need of runs and started in a positive manner striking two boundaries from his first two balls. Lynn had witnessed the carnage unfold and made some of his own, dispatching leg spinner Shadab Khan and fast medium bowler Faheem Ashraf into the stands frequently. The evolving stand between them was ended as Head found Hasan Ali for 29 of the expensive Ashraf.
Lynn and Maxwell continued a fiery and fearsome onslaught as the run rate was the least of the tourists worries with boundaries flowing and hopes of Pakistan going. Lynnsanity had picked up gears since moving to 50 but on 68, Pakistan got their man as Hasan Ali couldn’t stay out of the action, running Lynn out at deep cover. Faulkner took the attack to Pakistan with a free flowing 21 off 11 balls with 3 fours and 1 big maximum before at 5-155 Amir executed a yorker which cannoned into off stump.
Tighter overs from Pakistan saw the pressure get to Maxwell who was dismissed for 33 at 7-170 by Hasan Ali and Pakistan had the momentum. Agar’s poor display with the ball wasn’t matched with the bat but after three successive boundaries he departed for 14 at 8-176. Conserved T20 batting from Zampa and Stanlake pushed the target closer with relative ease before Zampa smashed a boundary of Amir in the last over to guide Australia home with 3 balls left.
Despite making a big score, Pakistan will be disappointed from their bowling attack which allowed the Australian’s batting to score runs at a very quick rate and was the subtle difference between the teams.
Hasan Ali bowled phenomenally well for his four wickets but wasn’t supported by the rest of the attack as Australia snuck home for an important victory.
Pakistan had beaten Zimbabwe in the first game of the tournament but with a game in hand for both sides, the competition was all up for grabs!
Game 2: Zimbabwe – Australia
Australia faced Zimbabwe with the Aussies looking to go two from two and Zimbabwe looking to avenge their defeat to Pakistan.
After being trounced by Pakistan, Zimbabwe started brightly with Solomon Mire and Hamilton Masakadza taking advantage of the Powerplay. The opening bowlers were dispatched to the boundary with any width pummelled towards the crowd. Length was also smashed as momentum was firmly in favour of Zimbabwe as attacking and innovative shots were created. Tye’s clever bowling and variations caused the most threat and dismissed Masakadza for a flowing 34 from 18 trapped in front with the swing and deception. Zhuwao fed the strike straight to Mire who attacked the spin of Zampa and Agar alongside the fearsome pace of Stanlake and a score of 200+ was looking very promising. Agar, though, set up Zhuwao with dot balls and the pressure culminated in a risky ramp which struck his pad leaving Zimbabwe 2-109. Musakanda joined Mire at the crease but lasted one ball as Zampa found extra turn to knock him over. In a crazy period of cricket, Ryan Burl produced an innings that had everything. First ball 6, Second ball 4, Third ball dropped, Fourth ball LBW as Zampa got his second victim.
Mire reached his fifty and took hold of the innings from the mini collapse but didn’t last as long as he or the team required as Zampa’s ability to turn the ball ended with the dismissal of Mire (63) LBW in a fantastic spell of spin bowling. Peter Moor played a swashbuckling knock to recover Zimbabwe from 5-133 with 6 boundaries for 29 before Zampa took his 4th – 4-41(4.0).
With plenty of overs left in the hand, Zimbabwe were faltering as Mavuta (5) was bowled by Tye leaving them 7-164. Wellington Masakadza hit two quick fours before a Faulkner blitz promptly ended the innings at 177 from 17 overs. Masakadza (9) , Jarvis (0) and Mpofu (0) were his victims as incredibly 7 of the 10 wickets were LBW.
Australia started in a similar if not more aggressive manner with Jarvis and Mpofu smashed around to the short and long boundary. After racing to 48-0, a rare mix up between Finch and Short saw the former ran out for a promising 18. Short continued his ball striking exploits with Carey as the pair raced towards the competitive total. Mavuta in particular was susceptible to the boundary hitting shots mixed with the rotation of strike as Zimbabwe were looking helpless to prevent the runs flowing. Taking a leaf out of Zimbabwe’s book, Short and Carey were miles above the run rate and brought up the 50 partnership within 8 overs. With the success Zampa had, Chisoro started well against the pair and broke through at 88-1 as Carey’s powerful 25 off just 10 balls was ended. Short (48) was soon gone in a momentum change as Mavuta’s expensive spell provided the wicket as he neared his half century.
Lynn and Head resumed from their partnership against Pakistan when they both looked in good touch and the same was said against Zimbabwe. Head dominated the strike playing aggressive but controlled shots towards the offside and through the covers whilst Lynnsanity was turned down a gear yet boundaries were still hit. As the pair continued, the total became nearer and Head brought up a special 50 at a 160 strike rate and duly finished off the game with his 4th maximum of the match. Australia had wrapped up the match with 14 balls to spare in a dominating performance with impressive striking and boundary hitting from all.
A lone positive in a disappointing bowling performance after an above par showing with the bat for Zimbabwe.
Australia sit top of the Tri Series Table with 2 wins from 2 with Pakistan 1 from 2 and Zimbabwe struggling with 2 losses from 2 matches.
Be sure to revisit the site to see how Australia fare in the final 2 round robin matches in the bid to make the final as well as many other cricket related topics including Ashes Cricket and the travails of the International Cricket world.