Qantas Tour of Zimbabwe
Super Fakhar fires Pakistan to glory
Opener's brilliant 91 trumps D'Arcy Short's 76 as Australia fall short in T20 tri-series final
Aaron Pereira at Harare Sports Club
8 July 2018, 11:59 PM AEST
The result: Australia 8-183 (Short 76, Finch 47, Amir 3-33) lost to Pakistan 4-187 (Fakhar 91, Malik 43 not out) by six wickets with four balls to spare.
The match in a tweet: Fakhar Zaman’s 91 powers Pakistan to their highest-ever T20 run-chase, with Australia left to rue a late batting collapse in the tri-series final #AUSvPAK
The big-game player: Aaron Finch rightly named Fakhar Zaman as Pakistan’s most dangerous batter ahead of the decider and the opener delivered for his side in spades. He smashed 91 from 46 balls after Pakistan lost two wickets in the first over. The same batsman who scored a century in the final of Pakistan’s surprise Champions Trophy victory was again decisive in a Pakistan victory. This time in Harare, he combined with Shoaib Malik for a match-defining 107-run stand. The left-hander struck three sixes and 12 fours in total, timing his innings almost to perfection. His late departure brought Australia back into the contest, but Malik finished the job with a clever innings to see Pakistan reel in their highest-ever T20 run chase. Fakhar's brilliant knock caps off a superb campaign, with his 278 runs earning him the player-of-the-series honours.
The fielding woes: Pakistan’s poor fielding could have cost them dearly in the T20 final in Harare. They put down Aaron Finch on the first delivery he faced and then D’Arcy Short in consecutive balls. A tough skied chance went begging in the second over when Finch top-edged, while a regulation catch that appeared to flick Short's glove then went down at first slip. From there, the two openers combined for 95 from 59 balls. Finch eventually departed for 47 from 27 balls but the damage was done. Short was again dropped on 52 on his way to 76 from 53 balls.
The catch: Despite Pakistan's troubles, Shadab Khan managed to reel in a memorable grab. As Australia chased quick runs and Short and Marcus Stoinis hit three sixes in a row, it was Alex Carey’s turn to swing the bat. He connected sweetly with a ball delivered by Faheem Ashraf that looked destined to reach the boundary. But a cat-like Shadab dived full-length at mid-off and stuck out one hand, claiming the catch and seeing the back of the dangerous wicketkeeper. His enthusiastic celebration matched the sheer brilliance of the catch.
The horror debut: Presented with his maiden cap by Shoaib Malik prior to the match, Sahibzada Farhan made his debut and, after fielding for 20 overs, opened the Pakistan innings. But the 22-year-old’s first ball was the stuff of nightmares. A leg-side wide from Glenn Maxwell saw Farhan overcommit and drag his back foot. Carey did the rest to leave Farhan the founder of a unique club; he is the first player to be stumped for a diamond duck (zero runs off zero balls) on debut.
The record: Pakistan had never lost a T20 International when batting second under the leadership of Sarfaraz Ahmed. The skipper would have been licking his lips when Finch won the toss and elected to bat, but early fielding blunders gave Australia the perfect start, from which Pakistan needed to claw their way back. But thanks to the cool heads of Malik and Fakhar, Sarfaraz’s record remains intact.
The collapse: After the openers put on a near century stand, Australia’s middle-order capitulated for the second time this series against Pakistan. They lost 6-31 from the final 26 balls of their innings, highlighted by the loss of Alex Carey, Ashton Agar and Travis Head in the space of nine deliveries, adding just ten runs. Mohammad Amir was the chief destoyer amid the wreckage, finishing with 3-33 from his four overs.
The rankings: Had Australia won all five of their matches in Harare, they would have risen to No.1 in the T20 world rankings. Instead, they drop to third behind Pakistan and India, missing a golden opportunity to claim the top spot for the first time in their history. They will have a chance to vie for it again when they meet Pakistan in the shortest format in the UAE this October.
Qantas Tour of Zimbabwe
Australia squad: Aaron Finch (c), Alex Carey (vc), Ashton Agar, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Jhye Richardson, Kane Richardson, D'Arcy Short, Billy Stanlake, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Andrew Tye, Jack Wildermuth
Pakistan squad: Sarfraz Ahmed (c), Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Hussain Talat, Haris Sohail, Shadab Khan, Mohammad Nawaz, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Amir, Usman Khan Shinwari, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Sahibzada Farhan.
Zimbabwe squad: Hamilton Masakadza (c), Cephas Zhuwao, Chamu Chibhabha, Brian Chari, Tarisai Musakanda, Malcolm Waller, PJ Moor, Tendai Chisoro, Kyle Jarvis, Brandon Mavuta, Blessing Muzarabani, Chris Mpofu, Ryan Burl, Solomon Mire, Wellington Masakadza, Elton Chigumbura, Ryan Murray
July 8: Final