The toss was once again won by Australia who chose to bat first. After witnessing the first few overs, the Australian commentators immediately deemed the Melbourne pitch to produce in excess of 350+ runs. They were proved wrong by the Pakistani bowlers who restricted the powerful Australian line up to a below par 220.
Comeback man Junaid Khan took the key wickets of David Warner and Usman Khawaja with similar deliveries, both angling away from the left-handers. The Pakistani bowlers chipped in with wickets at regular intervals, which meant Australia couldn’t get a rhythm going.
The Pakistani batsmen once again were chasing a mediocre total. The opening combo gave Pakistan a good start in putting on 68 runs for the first wicket, the highest opening partnership of the tour for the visitors.
After Babar Azam’s departure, their was a little wobble with stand in captain Hafeez falling an over later, but in the end, Pakistan got over the line comfortably with two overs to spare.
Overall, I thought it was a fantastic all-round performance by Pakistan. The strategies on field were amazing, as was the captaincy of stand in skipper of Mohammad Hafeez. I thought the bowling combination looked extremely efficient and its one that I’d like Pakistan to persist with going forward.
Hafeez regularly kept attacking fields throughout the innings. I believe this is the only way to restrict the belligerent Australian line up. If you look to contain them, you will ultimately get blown away due to the depth in their team.
Mohammad Hafeez – 9/10
After a poor first game, Hafeez returned to form with a 72, gaining him the man of the match award. He was dropped on 0, but made use of his fortune and played a calculated innings. On the night however, I was most impressed with his captaincy. The ‘Professor’ proved why he has the nickname with strategic decision on field.
Sharjeel Khan – 6.5/10
The powerful leftie from Hyderabad once again made a start, but failed to capitalise on it. It seems to be a recurring theme with Sharjeel. He looked in sublime form middling the ball beautifully, but he continues to find a way to get out. I would persist with him, largely due to the fact that he is rare in Pakistan in terms of being a dynamic batsman.
Babar Azam – 7/10
White ball cricket definitely suits Babar. He is a different batsman when wearing coloured clothing. In consecutive innings he’s looked a class apart, but has failed to make that big score. I thought he was unlucky today with his dismissal ramping the ball down to the third man. He also got out in a similar manner in the 50 over tour game against the Cricket Australia XI.
Asad Shafiq – 3/10
It was yet another poor game for Asad Shafiq in the 50 over format. I have never agreed with his selection in ODI cricket. I don’t believe he is an ODI batsman, and his average of 25 in the format is testament to that. In my view, he should remain a test match specialist. He simply doesn’t have the tools to be a successful ODI batsman in the modern era. He lacks the ability to strike the ball big, and finds it difficult to rotate strike.
Shoaib Malik – 8.5/10
After two wickets fell in succession, in came the ex-captain to steady the ship. Malik did that with ease striking 42* displaying a range of strokes. The highlight of the day was his straight drive for six. Once again, he continues to prove why he is one of the best-limited overs batsmen in Pakistan.
Umar Akmal – 7/10
Umar hit three boundaries on his way to 18*. I thought he played extremely hell, and that he handled the Australian pace bowling well. I think this innings will give him a lot of confidence going in to the remaining fixtures. Its clear Umar belongs in this ODI outfit, and he must be given an extended run.
Mohammad Rizwan – 7/10
Rizwan did not get to bat, but took three catches. So far in the series he’s looked to be extremely competent behind the stumps, it’s only his work in front of the wickets I worry about. I think Rizwan needs to understand his game a lot better. He has to work and improve his game against the spinners, as it’s an area I feel he strong lacks.
Imad Wasim – 8/10
The all-rounder backed up his solid performance in the first game with an impressive bowling performance in the second. The left-hander took the key wickets of Glenn Maxwell and Steven Smith, which ultimately reduced the Australian score.
Mohammad Amir – 8/10
Amir took three wickets in the Australian innings and looked extremely impressive. I thought he bowled better in the previous game, but here, he took more wickets. That’s just how the game works. Since Amir’s comeback, he’s been most impressive in the ODI format. I think it could be due to fitness issues. In the first ODI, his death bowling wasn’t impressive. Today, he improved & wrapped up the tail.
Hasan Ali – 7.5/10
After an expensive first game, Hasan returned with the most economical figures by a Pakistani pace man on the day. This shows to me that he’s a thinking cricketer, and one who improves from his mistakes. The slower ball he possesses is his most lethal weapon.
Junaid Khan – 8/10
I always felt Junaid has been hard done by. He had a poor 2015, but he was returning from a serious knee injury. He needed time to settle back in to international cricket. On comeback, the left-hander produced a thrilling spell to opening batsman David Warner, in which he gained his wicket. All throughout the test series, the Pakistani bowlers have not shown any aggression towards the batsmen. This was an area, which Junaid excelled in, and I was happy to see it.
Bowlers, Hafeez set up historic win.
Bowlers, Hafeez set up historic win.