PERTH: Pakistan’s top-scorer Iftikhar Ahmed pulls during the third Twenty20 International against Australia at Perth Stadium on Friday.—AFP
PERTH: Pakistan’s top-scorer Iftikhar Ahmed pulls during the third Twenty20 International against Australia at Perth Stadium on Friday.—AFP

PERTH: Pakistan were left humbled and humiliated by Australia’s miserly bowling unit, which set up a comprehensive 10-wicket victory for the home side in the third Twenty20 International on Friday and ensured a 2-0 triumph in the rain-affected series.

Batting first after losing the toss at Perth Stadium, the tourists mustered just 106 for eight after Australia’s seamers combined for seven of the eight wickets to fall. The target posed no problems for the hosts who blasted their way to 109 in only 11.5 overs as captain Aaron Finch and David Warner ran riot.

Finch (52 not out) and Warner (48 not out) entertained the modest Perth crowd — experiencing their first T20 International in nine years — with a lusty display of twilight hitting which produced five sixes and eight fours and saw Australia cruise home with 53 balls to spare.

The home team won game two by seven wickets in Canberra thanks to a brilliant 80 not out from Steve Smith and were also on track to also seal victory in the opening game in Sydney only for rain to save the visitors.

Their victory in Perth has them on an impressive eight-game winning streak in the short format as they build towards the T20 World Cup on home soil next year.

“Really proud of the boys with the way we applied ourselves in the last couple of weeks. Each time we turn up at training, we are improving ourselves and that is very important,” said Finch. “We are growing as a team and hopefully some big things to come.”

In contrast, Pakistan are struggling and have now lost five of their last six. Despite the poor run, which included an embarrassing 3-0 home series defeat to an under-strength Sri Lanka that cost Sarfraz Ahmed the captaincy, they remain number one in the rankings.

But their cricket chiefs will be worried about the two Tests against Australia to come, starting this month in Brisbane.

“Very disappointed, but we lost to a good team. We have learnt a lot from this series and we’ll take the positives and come back hard in the next series,” said skipper Babar Azam through a translator. “As captain, I learnt a lot personally too, but there’s a long way to go.”

Iftikhar Ahmed’s 45 was the only resistance by Pakistan in a repeat performance of poor batting against quality bowling, led by Kane Richardson who took three wickets.

On a fast, bouncy pitch, Finch and Warner showed no pity in reply, exposing Pakistan’s young and fragile attack.

The explosive Warner hit Mohammad Amir for six in the first over and there was no looking back in a display of power-hitting from the two men.

Pakistan made four changes with Imam ul-Haq and Mohammad Hasnain coming in and debuts handed to batsman Khushdil Shah and fast bowler Mohammad Musa Khan.

AUSTRALIAN players celebrate winning the series.—AFP
AUSTRALIAN players celebrate winning the series.—AFP

Only Babar and Iftikhar have shown signs of life in the batting department this series and, again, no one else stood up.

Babar — , the world’s top-ranked T20 batsman — had hit consecutive 50s in the previous games, but he fell early, out lbw to Mitchell Starc for six. The Australian fast bowler then smashed the stumps of Mohammad Rizwan next ball with a searing inswinging delivery, leaving Pakistan at 15 for two.

Opener Imam, in for the out-of-form Fakhar Zaman, didn’t fare much better. He hit two boundaries in his 14 before mis-hitting a pull shot off paceman Sean Abbott — playing his first international match since bowling a bouncer which fatally struck New South Wales batsman Phillip Hughes in 2014 — for Ben McDermott to take an easy catch.

Haris Sohail again failed, mistiming a shot against left-arm spinner Ashton Agar, while Khushdil lasted 11 balls for his eight runs. Imad Wasim also fell cheaply.

When Iftikhar — who scored a quickfire 62 in Canberra — finally went looking for a boundary off Richardson, it was left to the tailenders to at least ensure their team made it to three figures.

“Starcy, Richardson, they were brilliant every chance they got,” said an elated Finch. “Sean Abbott, to come back after five years and do the business first up was unbelievable.”

The teams will now play two Tests, the first beginning at the Gabba in Brisbane on Nov 21 and the second, a day-night fixture, from Nov 29 at the Adelaide Oval.

Scoreboard

PAKISTAN:

Imam-ul-Haq c McDermott b Abbott 14
Babar Azam lbw b Starc 6
Mohammad Rizwan b Starc 0
Haris Sohail c Richardson b Agar 8
Iftikhar Ahmed c Starc b Richardson 45
Khushdil Shah c Starc b Richardson 8
Imad Wasim c Agar b Abbott 6
Shadab Khan c Finch b Richardson 1
Mohammad Amir not out 9
Mohammad Hasnain not out 4

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-4) 5

TOTAL (eight wkts, 20 overs) 106

FALL OF WKTS: 1-15, 2-15, 3-22, 4-54, 5-69, 6-88, 7-92, 8-92.

DID NOT BAT: Mohammad Musa Khan.

BOWLING: Starc 4-0-29-2 (3w); Abbott 4-0-14-2; Richardson 4-0-18-3; Stanlake 4-0-19-0 (1w); Agar 4-0-25-1.

AUSTRALIA:

A.J. Finch not out 52
D.A. Warner not out 48

EXTRAS (LB-1, W-8) 9

TOTAL (for no wkt, 11.5 overs) 109

DID NOT BAT: S.P.D. Smith, B.R. McDermott, A. Turner, A.T. Carey, A.C. Agar, S.A. Abbott, M.A. Starc, B. Stanlake, K.W. Richardson.

BOWLING: Mohammad Amir 3-0-25-0 (3w); Mohammad Musa Khan 3.5-0-39-0 (1w); Mohammad Hasnain 4-0-32-0 (3w); Imad Wasim 1-0-12-0.

RESULT: Australia won by 10 wickets to win three-match series 2-0.

UMPIRES: P. Wilson (Australia) and S.J. Nogajski (Australia).

TV UMPIRE: G.A. Abood (Australia).

MATCH REFEREE: J. Srinath (India).

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Sean Abbott.

MAN-OF-THE-SERIES: Steve Smith.

FIRST MATCH: Sydney, no result.

SECOND MATCH: Canberra, Australia won by seven wickets.

Published in Dawn, November 9th, 2019