555 runs scored, 10 wickets and a dropped catch. The Pakistan – Australia T20I Final had it all!
Final: Pakistan vs Australia
Australia reverted back to their more favoured XI for the T20I final with Ashton Agar dropped in place of the towering fast bowler Billy Stanlake.
Zaman had previously shown signs in this Tri Series of making a huge score and backed up his destructive record with a blistering start against Short and Faulkner. He continued his onslaught leaving Farhan away from the strike which payed for his downfall as Finch took the catch at short cover from leggie Zampa for 8. Sohail joined Zaman and took a similar attack to the Australian bowlers, down on confidence from their two recent defeats.
Each bowler that came on was hammered from good and bad balls with Zaman targeting more obscurer areas than Sohail with intricate shots mixed along with the big slog. Sohail power housed his way to 50 taking no prisoners and his 69 was filled with boundaries. The crowd certainly saw some outstanding T20 batting! Pakistan were looking set for a mammoth score with 182 on the board but Australia weren’t down and out and sparked a collapse of 4 wickets for just 7 runs. Sohail’s aggression was halted by Faulkner with his leg cutter deceiving him before trapping young batsman Talat in front for a second ball duck. Faulkner soon had his third with Hafeez departing first ball behind to Carey as Pakistan looked to be overly attacking with each batsman that came.
3 in four balls for the left arm seamer restricted Pakistan from a potentially record breaking score.
Zaman reached his century with his 4th maximum before Richardson found his edge for a memorable century propelling Pakistan well ahead of the game. At 5-189, Australia had certainly restricted Pakistan but a 38 run partnership from just two overs swung the momentum back to the hosts as Ahmed 19 from 7 and Shadab Khan 20 from 8 showed glimpses of the early big hitting demonstrated by Zaman. 227-6 was a huge and very defendable score and gave Pakistan the upper hand with confidence and momentum on their side.
Australia were well aware that it would be a remarkable and memorable chase if they achieved it and seemed to have that belief and intent from the word go. Finch and Short quickly climbed into Amir and Hasan Ali in a destructive start punishing each length whilst running well between the wickets and keeping the pressure on the Pakistan fielding side. Usman Khan Shinwari had barely featured for the Pakistan T20I side before but bowled an incredible maiden in the midst of the carnage created by the opening duo. However, the duo were undeterred and duly attacked leg spinner Shadab Khan and seamer Ashraf and took advantage of some wayward bowling. Both reached their 50 before departing with in the space of three balls.
Finch left first for 58 trapped in front by Shadab Khan and then Short went for 58 likewise LBW to Khan. Finch gets the top run scorer thanks to his superior strike rate, striking at 232. At 118-2, Australia still needed 100+ runs with 10 or so overs to go and their task was made harder when Lynn succumbed to Khan’s googly. Travis Head looked impressive with two boundaries but was out for a brisk 14 leaving us 143-4 with chances slimming.
Cricket is a game where the game is not over until its over and with Maxwell and Carey at the crease, the game was still up for grabs. Capitalising on the bowling would be crucial and both were forced into aggression but their shots were effortless. Maxwell played a typical Glenn Maxwell innings of fire, power and sixes whilst Carey chipped in when Maxwell would miss out and the partnership was flowing perfectly.
With 20 needed off the last two overs, Pakistan’s hopes has faded when Maxwell bulldozed 14 off the over leaving Mohammed Amir’s bowling figures at 4-0-49-0 (very similar to Faheem Ashraf 4-0-65-1). Carey topped off the job with 3 balls to spare smashing Hasan Ali into the crowd sparking wild (the minority Aussies fans) and crazy scenes as the Australians had completed an all time great chase!
In a T20I tournament which ebbed and flowed, the Final summed up the action throughout the course of the week with wickets changing momentum but one batter was always one innings away from inflicting a defeat. Despite the disappointing losses after qualifying through to the Final, we made a great impression of ourselves in foreign conditions.
James Faulkner, Jhye Richardson and Adam Zampa led the charge with the ball whilst each batsman made a crucial knock throughout the course of the five matches all contributing to our final victory. Without some of our star players, we have performed incredibly well since the start of my tenure and long may it continue. Next, we tour Pakistan in October in a two match Test Series with a break for any players overseas in England to make an impression before the Test squad is announced. Thanks for the continued and overwhelming support.