While sensing a sigh of relief after the consecutive losses on the Australian soil, under a new skipper, Pakistan hit a right note to chase down the target of 221 runs in 47.4 overs with six wickets in hand – in the second One-day International game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).
Anchoring the innings, the senior campaigner Shoaib Malik kept on scoring the singles as he remained unbeaten on 45 off 52 balls alongside Umar Akmal who scored unbeaten 18 off 20 balls as the winning run came as an extra when Travis Head fired the ball down the leg – to be declared as the wide.
In the morning, Mohammad Hafeez returned as a stand-in skipper after Azhar Ali suffered a hamstring injuring in the opener at Gabba on January 13.
Hafeez came to bat and was dropped on zero by his counterpart Steven Smith. After the early fortune, Hafeez set the plot and played the composite innings with opener Sharjeel Khan as their partnership of 68 for the first-wicket stand came as a boost to make the chase easy for rest of the batsmen.
The best example they set was the rotation of the strike in the middle and which holds the key in such formats especially when the side is chasing.
Sharjeel was the first wicket to go after scoring 29 off 32 balls which included four boundaries.
The 27-year-old left-handed batsman Sharjeel was picked by James Faulkner when he nicked the ball straight into the gloves of Matthew Wade.
Hafeez who scored 72 off 104 balls kept the scoreboard ticking alongside Babar Azam (34 of 49). Both put on 72 runs stand for the second wicket before Azam was caught by Hazlewood on the bowling off fast bowler Mitchell Starc.
The middle-order batsman Asad Shafiq was sent back by Starc when he was batting on 13 off 29 balls.
Earlier in the day, on the bright and sunny afternoon at the MCG, Australian skipper won the toss and opted to bat first. Australian was bundled out on 220 after Pakistan bowlers kept things under control against the hosts in the second ODI.
The late-order collapse saw Australia has gone defensive at the MCG as Pakistan spinners kept them under check during the middle overs.
Earlier, comeback man and the left-arm fast bowler Junaid Khan removed both the openers David Warner and Usman Khawaja in quick succession as Australia was teetering at 41 for three with Mitchell Marsh returning to the pavilion on not on the bowling of Mohammad Amir.
The left-arm fast bowler Amir bagged 3 wickets in 9.2 overs wickets after conceding 47 runs.
Glenn Maxwell returned after scoring 23 off 26 balls on the bowling of Imad Wasim. Travis Head scored 29 off 31 balls before perishing to Hasan Ali when he edged the ball into the gloves of wicket-keeper batsman Mohammad Rizwan.
Leading from the front, Steven Smith restored the innings in the middle by scoring 60 off 101 balls before being cleaned up by Imad Wasim. James Faulkner chipped in with 19 off 21 balls.
A fine 65-run sixth wicket stand between Smith and wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Wade (35 off 65 balls) had helped the hosts to build on a recovery mode before losing the wickets at regular intervals.
They hosts fell from 193 for six to 220 all out. Mitchell Starc (3 runs off 5 balls), Patt Cummins and Josh Hazlewood returned to the pavilion without scoring.
Junaid Khan and Imad Wasim picked two wickets apiece. However, Hasan Ali, Shoaib Malik picked a wicket respectively.
Earlier, Australia made two changes as Chris Lynn was replaced by Usman Khawaja after suffering a neck injury and fast bowler Billy Stankale was replaced by Josh Hazlewood.
“Chris Lynn has aggravated his neck again so he’s out. Stanlake is a little bit crook. I think he’s got a virus so he was struggling a bit the other night,” Smith said at the toss.
On the other side, Wahab Riaz and Mohammad Nawaz were replaced by Junaid Khan and Shoaib Malik. Asad Shafiq came in place of injured Azhar Ali.
The five-match Victoria-Bitter ODI series is tied at one win apiece.
Pakistan XI: Mohammad Hafeez (capt), Sharjeel Khan, Babar Azam, Asad Shafiq, Shoaib Malik, Umar Akmal, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Junaid Khan.
Australia XI: David Warner, Travis Head, Steven Smith (capt), Usman Khawaja, Glenn Maxwell, Mitch Marsh, MS Wade (wk), James Faulkner, Patt Cummins, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood.
Pakistan Vs Australia 2nd ODI At The MCG:
Brief scores: Pakistan 221 for four in 47.4 overs (Mohammad Hafeez 72, Shoaib Malik 45 – James Faulkner 2-35, Mitchell Starc 2-45)
Australia: 220 all-out in 48.2 overs (Steve Smith 60, Matthew Wade 35 – Mohammad Amir 3-47, Junaid Khan 2-40, Imad Wasim 2-37)