Fakhar's 91 seals record chase to give Pakistan the title
HARARE: Opener Fakhar Zaman cracked a career-best 91 to help set up Pakistan´s six-wicket win over Australia in the final of the Twenty20 tri-series at Harare Sports Club on Sunday.
Zaman shared in a century stand with Shoaib Malik as Pakistan recovered from an early wobble in their pursuit of Australia´s 183 for 8, and Malik then showed all the experience of an 18-year international career to see his team home with an unbeaten 43.
It looked as though Australia had produced a masterstroke in opening the bowling with Glenn Maxwell´s offspin as debutant Sahibzada Farhan was stumped off the first ball he faced and Hussain Talat sliced a catch to point three balls later to derail Pakistan´s chase.
Australia threatened to storm to victory, but Zaman quickly set about re-building the innings. First, he added 45 with captain Sarfraz Ahmed to take his team out of immediate danger, and he then added 107 for the fourth wicket with Malik to seize the advantage for Pakistan.
When Zaman fell cutting out to deep cover, Pakistan still needed 30 from 24, but while Malik remained at the crease their chase was always safe.
Their ultimate victory capped a mixed day for Pakistan. Australia captain Aaron Finch was given a first-ball reprieve when he was dropped by Malik in the deep after top-edging a hook, and several misfields allowed any pressure with the new ball to be immediately dissipated.
Their errors allowed Australia to get off to a flier, with Finch putting together a 95-run opening stand with D´Arcy Short. Short was also dropped just after he had reached a 39-ball fifty, but he could not better his previous T20I high score of 76 and Pakistan´s bowling at the death kept Australia in check.
From 95 for 0 after the first 10 overs, Australia lost 8 for 88 and their 183 for 8 was not quite enough to better Pakistan in the final analysis.
Sarfraz: It's a great team effort. Credit to the bowlers. Then Fakhar Zaman and Malik finished it for us. There were some dropped catches but we took the momentum in the second innings. The way Fakhar is batting and the whole tournament he and Malik batting well. Credit to the boys and management.
Finch: I thought we should have got around 200 and we just kept losing the wickets, which stalled the momentum. Pakistan played well. Yeah, I thought we started well with the ball. Fakhar Zaman played one hell of a knock. A 90-odd in a T20 game is hard to beat.
Fakar Zaman: Player of the Match and Player of the Series
I like these pitches. From the first game, I was in form. I have played here in 2016, the wickets were not that good then. Hard work in nets is the main thing. I take time at the start and play my natural game. After we lost two wickets, I told Safi I will play my natural game. Australia played well. Congratulations to my team