HARARE: Fast bowler Billy Stanlake rediscovered his aggressive streak to demolish Pakistan’s top order before captain Aaron Finch bludgeoned a quickfire half-century while setting up a nine-wicket win for Australia on Monday in the second match of the Twenty20 International tri-series in Zimbabwe.
Pakistan, who had thumped Zimbabwe by 74 runs in the opening game on Sunday, were stunned by Stanlake’s early burst and were dismissed for a miserly 116.
“The boys have been talking to me in the last few days about being a little more aggressive, so that’s why I came out and tried to do that,” said Stanlake.
The tactic brought almost immediate success, and he went on to record figures of 4-8 in his opening burst, the most economical spell by an Australian in T20I cricket, and second only to James Faulkner’s 5-27 the last time these two teams met.
Stanlake’s efforts were a complete turnaround from Australia’s last T20, against England, when he was carted for 47 in just three overs.
“In the last game at Edgbaston I probably got away from that a little bit, JL [Australia coach Justin Langer] was getting in to me at training the other day about getting a bit more aggressive at our boys in the nets, and he kept reinforcing that so I really wanted to make an emphasis on that today.”
Stanlake’s wickets, backed up by three quick strikes from Andrew Tye at the death and one each for Jhye Richardson and Marcus Stoinis before Australia chased down the modest target with ease as Finch registering an unbeaten 68 to help his team cantered home with more than nine overs to spare.
“There have been times where I have been (both fast and accurate), but it’s been a little inconsistent,” admitted man-of-the-match Stanlake. “The challenge for me is being able to do that game after game.
“England was a challenging tour for all of us, but the key message was doing the simple things well and sticking to our strengths.
“And I probably got away from that at times during England, so that’s why I came back today just trying to be aggressive with the new ball and take wickets.” Shoaib Malik, who became the first male cricketer to play 100 T20Is in this game, briefly rallied alongside Asif Ali before a horrible mix-up led to his run out for 13. It was left to Pakistan’s lower order to guide the team beyond 100.
Hasan Ali hurried D’Arcy Short’s pull to provide Pakistan with an early wicket, but Finch ensured there were no further slip-ups for the Australians.
He countered Pakistan’s spin threat with faultless attacking strokes, twice launching Mohammad Nawaz over long on and leathering leg-spinner Shadab Khan for three more sixes as the game ended in a flurry of runs.
Finch hit six sixes in all, and the game ended with a dropped catch at long on that went for four, summing up Pakistan’s day.
“Credit goes to Finch, he played really well,” said Hasan, who was the only bowler to break through for Pakistan. “The pitch was also really good in the second innings. We’re a good team, we’re No. 1 [in the world], and Insha’Allah we’ll bounce back in the next game [against Zimbabwe on Wednesday].”
Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, meanwhile, said his team’s torrid start was tough to overcome.
“The toss is very important, if you lose too many wickets in the first six overs, you can’t survive in the match,” he said. “Credit to Stanlake, he bowled with pace and bounce.”
Mohammad Hafeez c Finch b Stanlake 0
Fakhar Zaman c Carey b Stanlake 6
Hussain Talat c Finch b Stanlake 10
Sarfraz Ahmed c Finch b Stanlake 4
Shoaib Malik run out 13
Asif Ali b Stoinis 22
Shadab Khan c Head b Tye 29
Faheem Ashraf c Tye b Richardson 21
Mohammad Nawaz c Agar b Tye 6
Hasan Ali c Agar b Tye 0
Usman Khan Shinwari not out 0
EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4) 5
TOTAL (all out, 19.5 overs) 116
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-12, 3-19, 4-24, 5-47, 6-61, 7-91, 8-114, 9-116.
BOWLING: Stanlake 4-0-8-4 (1w); Richardson 4-0-22-1 (1w); Stoinis 3-0-17-1 (1w); Tye 3.5-0-38-3 (1w); Agar 4-0-27-0; Maxwell 1-0-3-0.
D.J.M. Short c Hussain b Hasan 15
A.J. Finch not out 68
T.M. Head not out 20
EXTRAS (LB-5, W-9) 14
TOTAL (for one wkt, 10.5 overs) 117
FALL OF WKT: 1-35.
DID NOT BAT: G.J. Maxwell, N.J. Maddinson, M.P. Stoinis, A.T. Carey, A.C. Agar, A.J. Tye, J.A. Richardson, B. Stanlake.
BOWLING: Usman Khan Shinwari 3-0-31-0 (1w); Mohammad Nawaz 2-0-22-0 (2w); Hasan Ali 2-0-18-1 (1w); Shadab Khan 3.5-0-41-0.
RESULT: Australia won by nine wickets.
UMPIRES: T.J. Matibiri (Zimbabwe) and R.B. Tiffin (Zimbabwe).
TV UMPIRE: I. Chabi (Zimbabwe).
MATCH REFEREE: J.J. Crowe (New Zealand0.
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Billy Stanlake.
Published in Dawn, July 3rd, 2018