In the series opener in Lahore, Travis Head led a depleted Australia to an amazing 88-run victory over Pakistan with a 72-ball 101 and two wickets to finish his ODI career.
In a comeback to the format for both Australia and Pakistan since July, Pakistan, chasing 314 runs, lamented a sluggish start and struggled against Australia's spinners in foggy circumstances under lights before being bowled out for 225 in the 46th over. With only 13 players to select from, Australia gave debuts to Nathan Ellis, a fast bowler, and Mitchell Swepson, a leg spinner. With young fast Mohammad Wasim and 34-year-old leg spinner Zahid Mahmood making their ODI debuts, Pakistan too had new faces.
As per cricket match highlights, Despite missing their preferred pace attack and Ashton Agar, who tested positive for Covid-19 the morning of the game, a focused Australia, using Swepson and Adam Zampa—a rare instance of the visitors using two frontline spinners—tied down Pakistan in the middle overs. Swepson got the crucial wicket of Babar Azam, the captain, for 57, while Zampa shredded the lower order to end with 4 for 38 from ten overs.
Imam-ul-Haq, who averaged 74.6 in the Test series, kept Pakistan's chase together by scoring 103 off 96 as he sped up to his century after a slow start. But as Australia's undefeated tour of Pakistan proceeded, he was struck by a great first ODI wicket from Ellis on a cracking yorker.
Imam and Babar paid the price for a conservative second-wicket partnership that totaled 96 runs off 118 balls. Despite appearing to be in cruise control, the run rate kept rising, and Imam and Babar were punished.
The Pakistani captain became the second-fastest player after Hashim Amla to reach 4000 ODI runs during the first ODI in Lahore since 2015, which was also Babar's debut. He did so in impressive fashion with a boundary off Swepson while supporters waved lit iPhones and chanted his name.
Babar, who was aiming for the long run, threw the ball around and occasionally scored a goal with expert precision. To the dismay of captain Aaron Finch, after a beautiful square drive off Swepson, he escaped a shout for lbw, and the judgment was maintained, continuing Australia's subpar use of DRS from the Test series.
When Swepson got Babar lbw in the following over with a full leg break that was unsuccessfully reviewed, he proved that he had found the rhythm that he had been missing during his Test debut.
Head's outstanding performance continued with a useful spell mid-innings while the ball was slipping on the surface. His nagging offbreaks eliminated Saud Shakeel and Iftikhar Ahmed. It concluded Head's dominant effort, which was his first ODI since November 2018.
As per cricket highlights, Australia seemed to be headed for a big total after being sent in thanks to Head's top-order fireworks, but Pakistan's spinners held them back before Cameron Green provided a late spark with an unbeaten 40 off 30 balls.
Head was in brilliant form from the start as he dominated a Pakistan attack that was sorely lacking the speed and skill of spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, who was rested after a demanding workload during the Test series. During Australia's historic Test series victory, Head struggled, averaging just 22.67.
Head demonstrated his preference for the top of the order to raise his average as an opener to 45.69 from 13 matches, which is significantly higher than his overall figure of 36. It was Head's second ODI century; both have been against Pakistan.
The strain on the ailing Australia captain's long-term position at the top may have increased as a result of his dominance in a 110-run opening stand with Finch. Finch struggled through the Australian summer due to a knee injury, and in his first ODI since December 2020, he made an underwhelming 23 off 36 after losing his flow once more.
No. 3 Ben McDermott, on the other hand, persuasively argued his point with a cool 55 off 70 until he needlessly exhausted himself after a misfield. Although he struggled in ODIs and T20Is, the BBL MVP generally played wisely during his first ODI half-century.
Australia's batting performance was a tale of two halves, scoring about seven runs per over in the first half before being bowled out in the second. Zahid produced a crisp turn while left-arm orthodox Khushdil Shah bowled a good spell at the finish.
Their score seemed typical, but it ended up being more than enough to help Australia defeat Pakistan for the tenth time in a row in one-day internationals. Head's comeback was a success.
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