Starc, Warner seal 4-1 series win

26 January 2017

David Warner's stunning century and Mitchell Starc's four wickets deliver big win in Adelaide

Australia v Pakistan ODIs, Fifth ODI


The scorecard

Australia 7-369 (Warner 179, Head 128) beat Pakistan 9-312 (Babar Azam 100, Umar Akmal 46, Starc 4-42) by 57 runs to win series 4-1.

The game in a tweet

New opening union sealed as Australia celebrate their national day by smashing records and crushing Pakistan to secure a 4-1 VB Series win

The hero

On a day that saw its share, David Warner again stood tall as the feature act.

Afflicted by a throat infection and severe head cold in the days leading into the game, Warner was offered a reprieve from the day’s first ball and set about making Pakistan suffer.

Which he did, repeatedly and relentlessly, for the next two and half hours.

His fastest-ever ODI half-century arrived off 34 balls, and his new benchmark for a century (78 balls) shaved more than a dozen deliveries off his pervious quickest.

By the time he fell for 179 – his ninth and most explosive ODI century in just over a year – he was cramping badly in both legs, although it didn’t stop him crunching Mohammad Hafeez over the cover fence for one final blow of defiance as he contorted in pain.

It would seem that nothing can curtail the left-hander in his current form.

Warner blasts career-best 179

The local hero

Travis Head has impressed in almost every ODI outing since making his ODI debut in the Caribbean midway through last year.

But with Aaron Finch omitted from the squad for this VB Series against Pakistan and his replacement opener Usman Khwaja rested from this game in Adelaide, Head was given a chance to show his wares at the top of the order.

And despite operating in Warner’s sizeable shadow for much of his innings, the left-hander grasped his opportunity firmly to complete his maiden international century. In front of an appreciative home crowd.

The fact that he was content to allow Warner to make the pace – Head reached his half-century from as many deliveries as it took his partner to post a ton – showed he has the temperament to play his own game.

But when Warner succumbed to cramps and lost his wicket, the South Australia skipper took over the role as principal aggressor until he holed out in the late scramble for runs with 128 against his name.

And having staked an undeniable claim to become Warner’s regular opening partner.

Head's maiden ODI century in full

The partnership

Prior to today, David Warner and Travis Head had opened an ODI innings for an aggregate return of 13 – in Brisbane a fortnight earlier when Warner was dismissed for seven.

They now hold a place in the record books for the most productive first-wicket stand Australia has produced, and came within a whisker of posting a total unprecedented in more than 45 years of one-day cricket.

When Warner was dismissed in the 42nd over the two left-handers had carried Australia’s score to 284, well beyond the previous best by an Australia pair – the 246 that Aaron Finch and Shaun Marsh blasted against Scotland in Edinburgh during the 2013 UK tour. At one stage they seemed set to become the first openers ever to bat through an entire 50-over innings.

And the record for the highest first-wicket stand – 286 by Sri Lanka’s Sanath Jayasuriya and Upul Tharanga against England in 2006 – was within grasp until Warner fell.

Regardless of how many more times the duo combine to get Australia underway, it’s difficult to imagine them both enjoying a better day out.

Warner, Head shatter records with epic stand

The records

They tumbled as frequently and surely as chances from the butter fingers of the Pakistan fielders.

Not only did Warner equal the mark for the fastest ODI century at the Adelaide Oval – a record he now shares with Allan Border, who’s 78-ball hundred came against Sri Lanka 32 years earlier.

He also plundered the highest individual ODI tally the ground has witnessed, his 179 surpassing West Indies legend Brian Lara’s 156 that also came at the expense of Pakistan’s bowlers in 2005.

But the most daunting benchmark was Australia’s 50-over total of 7-369, which exceeded the previous best effort by Lara’s West Indies in that game where he top-scored, by 30 runs.

At a venue that is renowned for its batting conditions, against a team that was recognised at the start of the summer for the quality of its pace bowling.

Warner, Head take Australia to 7-369

The unexpected

In the 81 previous ODIs played at the Adelaide Oval across more than four decades, no bowler has conceded 100 runs from their allotment of overs.

And because the heritage-protected Adelaide scoreboard needs to be reconfigured for the short-form of the game – to show overs bowled as well as wickets taken and runs conceded – it only has the capacity to display bowlers’ tallies to two digits.

So when Pakistan seamer Hasan Ali notched his century from the final ball of his ninth, and last, over the scoreboard operators were forced to enter uncharted territory.

Which they solved with a strategically placed length of white tape stuck shakily in front of the 00 next to Hasan’s name.

His 2-100 being the most expensive nine-over spell seen in an ODI on Australian soil.

The difference I

As it has been throughout the preceding Tests and one-dayers, fielding. The chance Azhar Ali dropped stretching wide to his left at second slip off Warner from the first ball of the innings would have been a screamer. And just the start his battling team needed.

But it didn’t stick. Nor did the sky ball that Mohammad Amir turfed a couple of hours later when Warner was 130.

Then there was the misfields. And the overthrow that gifted Warner five from what should have been a single.

Against the backdrop of a windless, cloudless afternoon, and on one of the world’s more pristine playing surfaces it was another sub-par fielding effort from a team that even made the catches they completed appear far more difficult than they should have been.

Warner handed a let off first ball in Adelaide

The difference II

As he’s done so often over the past year, Mitchell Starc made the vital early strike to remove captain Azhar Ali in just the third over. To arrest any early momentum the tourists so badly needed.

Then, when a promising second-wicket partnership of 130 bloomed, he returned and got rid of Sharjeel Khan with just the fourth ball of his spell. The comparison with Pakistan’s bowlers, who couldn’t buy a breakthrough until the final 10 overs, was … stark. He was the day’s stand-out bowler with 4-42.

Scintillating Starc snares four in Adelaide

The counter-punch

Babar Azam struggled to make a case when assigned to bat in the pivotal number three berth for Pakistan in the recent Commonwealth Bank Test series. Failing to reach 25 in any of his six innings.

But facing an insurmountable job tonight when he came to the crease in the third over with a further 359 runs needed, Babar showed his acumen in the white-ball format with a classy, well-timed century which was his fourth in just 23 ODI appearances.

The fact that it was the sole century posted by a Pakistan batter in this ODI Series underscored the 22-year-old’s claims to a bright future in both the long and short formats of the game.

Brilliant Babar scores fourth ODI ton

The blow

Pakistan veteran Shoaib Malik fended off a brutal delivery from Pat Cummins that reared up at him, and ballooned to Steve Smith at slip.

The Australia captain briefly considered calling for a review, in the belief it might have hit the batter’s glove. But if the replays of the ball striking Malik flush on the forearm weren’t sufficient evidence to support the decision not to, then the appearance of the team physiotherapist and Malik retiring hurt nursing his right arm was.

Initial reports from the Pakistan dressing room was there was no sign of a displaced fracture, but that x-rays were likely to be needed to check for the possibility of a hairline break.

Cummins thunderbolt forces Malik to retire

The catch

Mitchell Starc’s diving effort to snare Mohammad Rizwan at deep third man off Pat Cummins was so good the athletic fast bowler couldn’t quite believe it himself. He indicated he was unsure if he’d clasped the ball cleanly above the turf as he threw himself forward, but offered his own ‘soft’ signal was showed it was out.

Television replays confirmed his verdict, and Pakistan’s pursuit was all but over.

Starc takes 'catch of the summer'

The chip off the old block

Not much went amiss for Australia during their dominant batting innings. But midway through the penultimate over James Faulkner attempted to thrash a yorker-length delivery from Hasan Ali, only to have a chunk of wood fly from the base of his bat.

Having snuck a single, the all-rounder was then forced to retrieve the bit of bat from the pitch, and summon a new blade from the dressing room.

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