DUBAI: Australia are one win away from a One-day International series whitewash against Pakistan after the hosts were left to rue a batting collapse on Friday night that ranks among the all-time great chokes in cricket history.
Abid Ali — on debut — and Mohammad Rizwan both posted centuries for Pakistan and they were well placed to win the fourth ODI at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium as the hosts needed 66 runs from the final 10 overs.
But Pakistan fell in an extraordinary heap to lose six wickets for 52 runs and the match by six runs as Nathan Coulter-Nile (3-53 off 10 overs) and Marcus Stoinis (2-20) delivered at the death for Australia.
In the 4,119 ODIs to have been played, Pakistan’s defeat in Dubai was only the fourth time a run chase has featured two centurions in a losing cause.
India have achieved that dubious feat twice, most recently in January 2016 at Manuka Oval when Shikhar Dhawan and Virat Kohli hit tons before a collapse of nine wickets for 46 runs in 12 overs.
It means Australia are the only team whose bowlers have twice performed such extraordinary ‘get-out-of-jail’ acts.
“The two hundreds were positives for us, but we should have won this game,” Pakistan’s stand-in skipper Imad Wasim said after the match. “We were lacking the power hitting. We were short, so it shows we were lacking something. They [Australia] bowled beautifully [but] some of the shots were not on in that situation.”
Australian all-rounder Glenn Maxwell — who won plaudits for selflessly pushing for a second run in the final over of Australia’s innings only to be run out for 98 — said the visitors had been confident breaking the partnership between Abid and Rizwan could turn the match.
“We knew if we could break that partnership it was going to be hard for a new batter to start,” Maxwell said. “Once Abid got his 100, he started to play a few more shots and started to try and take on the fielders a bit more, which probably played into our hands a bit.
“With the ball wet and heavy it was actually hard to clear the rope. So we just tried to apply as much pressure as possible on the new batsman and that went well for us from then on.”
The ever-animated Mickey Arthur had a face like thunder on the Pakistan team’s balcony, while Maxwell said the roll the Australia side are on at the moment meant the side was able to find a way to win.
“That’s the great thing about this group at the moment, we’re finding ways to win in different conditions, in different ways,” Maxwell said. “I think it’s one of those games where because we’ve had a bit of winning momentum behind us, you find a way to win these.
“If you look back six or seven months ago, probably even less, we were probably on the other side of it — we were finding ways to lose when we were in winning positions.
“So it’s a funny thing winning momentum. When you’re winning games, you just find a way to win.
“That’s why I’m really proud of this group, we just hung in there and were able to just keep the run-rate at bay.”
Published in Dawn, March 31st, 2019