Game 3: Pakistan vs Australia
With the table hotting up, approaching the final two round robin matches, Australia encountered Pakistan in the UAE looking to qualify automatically for the final.
Pakistan began the innings with the same intent they showed at the end of their innings in the first game courtesy of a Sarfraz 61 as Zaman and Farhan took the mantle dispatching Short and Faulkner early on. Jhye Richardson has been the find of the season so far for Australia (in for Stanlake) and he delivered breaking a promising partnership with Farhan (22) sent back to the pavilion. Sohail had struggled adjusting to three in his first two matches and Richardson exploited that at 2-60 with his second LBW victim outside the powerplay.
Zaman’s scoring rate had stagnated from his early hitting with Farhan and Sohail falling and in an attempt to kickstart his innings and take spin out of the attack, he succumbed to the left arm spin of Agar for a brisk 34. Talat and Hafeez impressed against Zampa and Agar as the experienced head of Hafeez dispatched boundaries quickly. Zampa in particular bowled accurately and tightly for his 4-0-28-0 keeping the Pakistan side under control. With the 50 partnership up, the 7th bowling option of off spinner Maxwell made the breakthrough bowling Talat (31).
The dangerous Ahmed (14) showed glimpses of his imperious ball striking from game 1 with two glorious boundaries but the fast Richardson took his third of the night decimating the leg stump. Another wicket fell with Nawaz (5) finding the gloves of Carey off to expensive Tye. Wickets at intervals had decreased the set batsmen scoring rate and Hafeez departed at 7-161 for 39 LBW to Faulkner from 26 with a leg side filled wagon wheel. Faulkner dismissed Shadab Khan for 4 as another leg before wicket in a strong comeback from Australia at the end of the innings with tight and economical bowling as Pakistan ended on 163-8 which was above par but they were certainly hoping for more on the board.
Jhye Richardson impressed with the ball with fast economical bowling taking 3 scalps for 19 runs in his first game of the series.
Pakistan knew the danger of a Finch and Short partnership blossoming and after some early treatment of Amir, the rejuvenated Hasan Ali dismissed Short for 14 who has been starting to look out of sorts from his beginning of the ODIs with a rest required soon. Carey had had a real Jekyll and Hyde series with a first ball duck in the first game and then an explosive 25 from 10 and Hasan Ali, who dismissed Carey in the first game, did the same on his first ball. The introduction of leg spin from Shadab Khan provided Pakistan with increasing momentum as set batsmen Finch (17) looked to take the attack but Sarfraz took a neat stumping.
Lynn and Head continued Australia’s fearless run scoring rate with the run rate least of the tourists problems as Amir and Ashraf felt the heat of the boundaries whizzing past. Lynn looked in the zone to make a big knock but Amir’s relentless pressure finally succeeded with Lynn (19) nicking behind and falling into a well executed trap. Ashraf backed up Amir’s wicket with the crucial wicket of Head (9) as Australia were wobbling at 5-61.
Maxwell and Faulkner played dissimilar roles with Faulkner the aggressor against the enthusiastic Pakistan attack. Maxwell’s conserved innings was over as he left for 5 LBW to Ashraf for his second. Faulkner’s aggressive style was bringing Australia faint hope but his 22 from 12 was “all she wrote” with Khan grabbing his second wicket leaving the Aussies 7-90. Agar was back in the hut for 2 as the young leggie took his third in an exciting spell of spin bowling. Zampa and Richardson used the long handle in an intent for boundary or bust and Zampa’s entertaining 13 from 5 was ended by Nawaz. Tye is not known for his big hitting but he delivered two lusty blows before Richardson curtailed the innings at 128 at a losing cause of 35 runs.
A disappointing batting innings where we never applied ourselves to the chase and batted with too much recklessness and not enough rotation of strike. A top order collapse was detrimental with no one stepping up to provide that winning knock. Nevertheless, we still play Zimbabwe with a spot in the final virtually guaranteed.
Expensive from the young leg spinner but a crucial spell with 3 important wickets in Pakistan’s tight victory.
Game 4: Zimbabwe vs Australia
With Zimbabwe out of contention for the final, Australia will play Pakistan in the final but first was the chance for Zimbabwe to get some points and Australia to rest and rotate their squad around.
Solomon Mire starred against the Aussies in game 2 and started well against left arm spinner Short but fell soon after to Faulkner caught behind to returning keeper Matt Wade. Richardson picked up where he left off from the Pakistan game and ripped the middle stump of Zhuwao (5). Malcolm Waller made his T20I debut in this dead rubber and showed small glimpses of talent but Stanlake’s superior bounce found an edge flying to Finch at slip who took a smart catch. Zimbabwe were in trouble at 3-35 as Ryan Burl walked to the crease with memories of his entertaining knock fresh in both teams minds. Masakadza had witnessed the fall of the wickets at the non strikers end but wasn’t fazed with the task of setting a competitive score. Burl played second fiddle but Australia struck again with the inexperienced Dwarshuis catching Masakadza edge for 34.
Burl immediately took the mantle and put the Australian bowlers off their usual lines and lengths. His sweeping and innovation was the cornerstone for his innings alongside some genuine power hitting strokes. Dwarshuis was likened to by Burl with his length and pace targeted consistently alongside Moor who played the second fiddle role. Burl passed 50 at a strike rate of 200 and continued in that way before Dwarshuis had the last laugh trapping him in front for a match winning 58.
Moor couldn’t take the mantle from Burl and departed to Faulkner before Chisoro was comprehensively bowled by Stanlake for 4. Mavuta and Masakadza added 14 in the last over to get the Zimbabwe side up to 156 which was a good score epically coming from Burl after their early struggle.
2 wickets for James Faulkner who has been a revelation since his long awaited return to the Australian setup.
Despite calls for Short to be rested, he wasn’t and he opened with Finch against Kyle Jarvis but Finch lasted 3 balls before his leg stump was obliterated. Matt Wade hit a 100m maximum to kickstart a sign of form but an unfortunate piece of calling between the wickets with Hobart Hurricanes team mate Short left Wade out for 8. A fantastic opening spell from Jarvis and Mpofu set the standard for Zimbabwe and Mavuta’s tighter bowling restricted Short and his slow innings for 8 was over leaving the Aussies 3-35 just like their opponents.
Head and Lynn had had successful partnerships together and began developing another as momentarily Zimbabwe were on the back foot. Head dealt with the big maximums whilst Lynn hammered boundaries mainly off the spin bowlers as Australia were well above the required rate but needed to maintain their partnership.
Travis Head smashed 29 from just 9 deliveries before Mavuta took an important wicket with an extra hint of swing as the dangerous 40 run partnership was over. Jordan Silk had a chance to impress Australian selectors with an innings keeping him around the side but was out for a golden duck to Chisoro. From then Lynn was struggling to find the boundary and his innings was at an end when Wellington Masakadza bowled a googly which Lynn played all around. Faulkner couldn’t repeat his heroics from England all those years ago and departed for 10 from 10 leaving Australia down and out at 7-94.
Agar and Jhye Richardson joined together and took the boundary route in an unlikely chase with two huge sixes from the WA pair in the second biggest stand of the innings. Agar departed for an almost run a ball 15 to Masakadza with 37 required off four overs. Dwarshuis batted like he was in a test match leaving and blocking whilst Richardson pummelled the attack around the park in a 28 NO off 23. Dwarshuis was out for 2 off 12 before Zimbabwe closed the match with a narrow 17 run victory.
The slow left armer impressed in the dead rubber taking 2-21
The result though doesn’t change the standings as Pakistan qualify top to play Australia in the Tri Series final which has so far shown the promise and excitement a T20 series between nations can cause. Maybe there will be more tournaments and series like this in the future…Be sure to find out the result of the T20I final to see whether Australia can lift their first trophy under Jamie Hamilton.