A sensational bowling effort helped Pakistan bundle out Australia for a paltry total of 210 runs in the first innings on Saturday, before knocks from Babar Azam (105 not out) and Imam-ul-Haq (89 not out) helped Pakistan reach home with nine wickets in hand and 73 balls to spare.
Pakistan dominated the game since the word go as Shaheen Afridi cleaned up Travis Head, one of Australia’s top performers in the ODI series, for zero on the very first ball of the innings. Before the visitors could recover from the loss, Haris Rauf dismissed Aaron Finch. In no time, Australia were 0/2. A relentless Rauf then removed Marnus Labuschagne to reduce the visitors to 6/3.
Marcus Stoinis’ 19 and Alex Carey’s 56 did help Australia but wickets at regular intervals kept the guests at bay. Sean Abbott’s 49 off 40 towards the end saved Australia’s blushes and gave them something to fight on the board. Otherwise, Australia were never really in the game.
Haris Rauf returned 3/39, Mohammad Wasim Junior took 3/40, while Shaheen Afridi picked 2/40. In reply, Pakistan lost Fakhar Zaman (17) early but an unbeaten partnership of 190 runs between Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq took an Australian win out of the equation way before the actual result.
Pakistan had lost the first game of the ODI series by 88 runs. The side didn’t lose heart and bounced back in the second game by chasing their highest-ever total in the 50-over format. In the third game, they were clinical and didn’t give Australia a chance.
“You need confidence after losing the first game. The credit goes to the players as they took responsibility and showed good efforts with the ball and the bat,” said Babar, who won both the Player of the Match and Player of the Series award.
“When you get early wickets, there is pressure on the opposition. Almost every bowler of ours executed their plans. There is pressure but you should (play) your game. I try to take most of the pressure and back my boys,” he added.
Meanwhile, Imam-ul-Haq, who ended the series as the highest run-getter (298 from 3 innings), said: "I'm a mature player now. Working hard from last one and a half year. Thanks to Babar - he's my best friend and we help each other … The thing which I have changed myself is I only look to control what I control."