Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Australia pace bowler Billy Stanlake took a career-best four wickets and captain Aaron Finch smashed an unbeaten 68 as their side annihilated Pakistan by nine wickets in Harare.
Choosing to bowl first, Australia got their first breakthrough on the third ball of the match as Pakistan opener Mohammad Hafeez was caught by Finch at first slip off the bowling of Stanlake for a duck.
Stanlake then proceeded to take out Hussain Talat, Fakhar Zaman and skipper Sarfraz Ahmed to leave Pakistan in all sorts of trouble at 24/4.
Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali managed to add 23 runs to the score before Malik was run out by Nic Maddinson for 13.
Asif went on to score 22 before he was clean bowled by Marcus Stoinis.
With Shadab Khan and Faheem Ashraf scoring 29 and 21 respectively, Pakistan managed to reach 116 before they were bowled out.
Stanlake was the pick of the bowlers with four wickets, while Andrew Tye snapped up three, and Stoinis and Jhye Richardson chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 117 to win, Australia got off to a brisk start before opener D’Arcy Short was dismissed by Hasan Ali for 15.
However, that was to be Pakistan’s last taste of success for the remainder of the match as Finch and Travis Head finished things off with an unbeaten 82-run partnership, during which Finch surpassed his half-century.
Finch finished on 68 off 33 balls, which included four boundaries and six sixes, while Head remained undefeated on 20, which came off 18 deliveries and included a solitary boundary.
Hasan was the only bowler to take a wicket.
Sarfraz was disappointed to have lost, and said: “Toss is very important, if you lose too many wickets in the first six overs, you can’t survive in the match. Credit to Stanlake, he bowled with pace and bounce. Plenty to work on.”
Finch was thrilled with his side’s performance, and said: “The tone the bowlers set with the ball on a pretty good wicket was fantastic. We’ve come here to win the series. We’ve been putting in plans, it did not come off in England. It was a pretty polished performance here. Richardson bounced back well and they just bowled aggressively and I hung on to some catches. At times, when you’re chasing a small total, you try to break the game open.”
Stanlake was named Man of the Match, and said: “We had a disappointing tour of the UK. Great for us to get a nice start in the series. My role is to be aggressive upfront and take wickets in the Powerplay and make it hard for the opposition to get on a roll. Hopefully, we can build on this. With the early wickets, Finch kept going with me. First time I have bowled out in one go. Finch was terrific in the field and with the bat.”