DUBAI (AFP) – Australia continued their dominance over Pakistan with a hard fought five-wicket win in the second day-night international, taking an unbeatable 2-0 lead in the three-match series.
Pakistan squandered an opening stand of 126 between openers Sarfraz Ahmed (65) and Ahmed Shahzad (61) and were bowled out for 215 in 49.3 overs with paceman Mitchell Johnson taking 3-40.
Glenn Maxwell then punished the sloppy Pakistan fielding with an 81-ball 76 as Australia reached their target in 43.2 overs for their fourth consecutive one-day series win over Pakistan.
Maxwell added an invaluable 85 for the fourth wicket with skipper George Bailey (28), steadying the chase after Pakistan dismissed Aaron Finch (14), David Warner (29) and Steven Smith (12) to leave Australia wobbling at 72-3.
But Pakistan spurned a good chance of dismissing the dangerous Maxwell on five when Umar Akmal dropped him in the slips off debutant Raza Hasan.
Hasan was also unlucky in the early overs when Fawad Alam let off Warner on ten, making Pakistan’s defence of a modest target even tougher.
Maxwell took advantage of the let off, reaching his eighth half-century off 56 deliveries.
Maxwell continued to punish the bowlers after Bailey was run out. With 38 needed off 81 balls, he holed out off Zulfiqar Babar after hitting nine boundaries and a six.
James Faulkner (26 not out) and Brad Haddin (17 not out) ensured Australia secured the win.
“I am satisfied,” said Bailey, standing in for the injured Michael Clarke.
“It was a pretty challenging pitch but we’re happy that we dragged them to 215 and then Glenn played a wonderful knock.” Pakistan captain Misbah-ul Haq blamed a poor total for the loss.
“I think it was a poor display of batting in the last 15 overs,” said Misbah. “It would have been a 250-plus total but irresponsible shots and my run out didn’t help us.” Asked was he under pressure to relinquish the captaincy, Misbah said: “I will fight on. We need to improve things before the World Cup – if not, it will be trouble.”
It was Johnson who derailed Pakistan’s innings with some fiery bowling.
Ahmed and Shahzad put on 126 for the opening wicket but Australia hit back to take the last nine wickets for a mere 89 runs.
Johnson, who took 3-24 in Australia’s 93-run win in the first one-dayer, put the brakes on the innings dismissing Ahmed, Umar Akmal (five) and Shahid Afridi (two) in a destructive 10-over spell.
Pakistan, who won the toss and batted, cruised to their first century stand in 44 innings as Ahmed and Shahzad batted with authority against a spin-cum-pace attack.
Ahmed, promoted to open the innings in this series, reached his maiden half-century off 60 balls while Shahzad needed 63 balls for his eighth 50.
Ahmed hit five boundaries and a six off 72 balls while Shahzad hit five boundaries in his 82-ball knock.
Pakistan’s last opening century stand in a one-dayer was between Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed against India at Kolkata in January 2013.