TAUNTON: A critical review against Wahab Riaz went the way of Australia and summed up just how close their 2019 World Cup battle at Taunton was, as they took a nail-biting win in the end.
David Warner found his mojo to crack a hundred and skipper Aaron Finch took care of the early going as Australia posted 307 all out, after looking as if they would have scored 400.
Pakistan then replied at pace and although wickets were falling they wanted to stay within touching distance of the required rate. This proved their downfall, as they were bowled out for 266 with still four overs and two balls used.
Pre-occupied with having to score over the psychological 300-run mark the Pakistanis batted as if they had 11 batsmen and although in the end they were taken from 200/7 to 264 by numbers eight and nine, it was asking too much for them to take them over the line.
Reaz struck a fine 45 off 39 balls with three fours and two sixes and was given not out on an appeal for caught behind. However, the Australians reviewed and he was sent for having too thick a coat of varnish on his bat. Hasan Ali was the best hitman for Reaz to move with as he scored 32 off 15 balls with three sixes and three fours.
Opener Iman ul Haq looked the only batsman who wanted to formulate a plan to reach the target but when he fell for a 75-ball 53, no one took up the mantle. Skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed was run out for 40 and Mahammad Hafeez made 46 but they needed to carry on for big ones like Warner and Finch did earlier on.
Earlier, Pakistan had all to play for, as they won the toss and sent the opposition. When they needed to pitch the ball up to maximize the early assistance, they preferred to bowl short. On a small ground, they were peppered as the Australian openers didn’t second guess when it came to playing shots. Finch racked up 82 in an opening partnership of 146 in 22 overs. He got his runs from 84 balls with six fours and four sixes. He fell to Amir who was the only bowler to use the conditions well, hence his return of 5/30.
Warner looked good and got to his century before he fell for 107 off 111 balls with 11 fours and one six. Amir was able to rip through the middle to bring Pakistan back into the match but the batsmen allowed the Aussies to run away with the two points.