Australia beat Pakistan to take series
(Cricinfo) A little calmer when it mattered most, Australia completed a victory more testing than the scoreboard ultimately showed to defeat Pakistan in Sharjah and claim the overnight ODI series 2-1. It was a result achieved as much by perspiration as inspiration, Michael Hussey and the nerveless tyro Glenn Maxwell forming the critical union to rescue their team from the uncertainty of 159 for 5 when Matthew Wade fell to Abdur Rehman.
Michael Hussey could so easily have been out lbw to Saeed Ajmal before he had scored, amid a mesmerising spell in which the offspinner claimed what appeared a pivotal 3 for 11. But Misbah-ul-Haq made a pair of judgements that were to prove too timid – failing to refer the umpire Billy Bowden’s decision, and then taking Ajmal off after five overs when another wicket or two might have sealed Australia’s fate.
Pakistan’s hesitation could perhaps be attributed to the weight of history, having not defeated Australia in an ODI series since 2002. There was to be little such trepidation about the way Michael Hussey and Maxwell closed in on the target, which had been reined in to manageable proportions by Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc after Pakistan’s openers made their team’s best start against Australia since 1985.
Mohammad Hafeez’s stand of 129 with Nasir Jamshed should have allowed Pakistan to soar well past 250, but Australia’s bowlers stuck admirably to their task to limit the rest. It was Johnson who started the salvage operation, claiming two wickets while keeping his economy-rate down, and thus allowing Starc to strike four times to continue his decent form.
As had been flagged as a possibility by the assistant coach Steve Rixon earlier in the series, Wade’s exertions during 50 overs in the field were deemed too much for him to back up immediately as an opener.