AUS v PAK, 2nd ODI Review: Mohammad Hafeez leads Pakistan to a hard-fought win
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Mohammad Hafeez smashed an impressive 72 as Pakistan went ahead and ensured that they drew level in the series. The win was more historic as well given the fact that this is Pakistan’s first win at this venue in almost 20 years. Umar Akmal and Shoaib Malik, perhaps a slightly more seniority in the side went ahead and completed the win as far as Pakistan was concerned.
Junaid Khan, who was making an unlikely comeback was certainly going to have a say in the grand scheme of things with the ball while Usman Khawaja made his way back into the side at the expense of Chris Lynn. The selection allowed Travis Head to reprise his role as a middle-order batsman. With Azhar Ali out, it was the experience of Mohammad Hafeez who had to take up the mantle of captaincy on the day.
From the outset, it seemed to be as though it was going to be an entertaining match. Once again, it was David Warner who was the first to be undone. While Ramiz Raja’s theory was that the MCG wicket was a used wicket and was a dry one as well, it was no excuse for the way the Australians batted. Perhaps, it was once again something for Darren Lehmann to work on perhaps.
It was the returning Junaid Khan who was bowling in a terrific manner. Just a few months prior to being frozen out of the side, the 27-year old had dismissed the two Australian openers. The ploy of leaving out Chris Lynn had seemingly not worked. While Steve Smith stuck around, it was Mitchell Marsh who seemingly got his promotion in the batting order.
This was perhaps due to his impressive form in the Big Bash League, but the fact of the matter remained that he was eventually out for a duck. A golden one at that as well. Travis Head, now bating at his original position went on to showcase his batting. He was playing an innings that he was certainly not used to.
Stitching an innings with his skipper, he would lose his wicket as he tried to become the aggressor of the partnership. Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade would go to add a few runs while James Faulkner also got off to a start. However, the terrible ordeal was that they were bowled out by what seemed to be an impressive and rejuvenated Pakistan bowling attack on the day as the Aussies were wiped out for a paltry 220.
Skipper Mohammad Hafeez, despite being just a stand-in went ahead and began to play his natural game as a batsman. It was perhaps the manner in which their batting had capitulated in the previous encounter that they were playing with such high intensity.
Babar Azam proved to one and all that he could indeed bat higher up the order as he went ahead and smashed the ball along with Hafeez. Of course, Sharjeel Khan had provided the start they were looking for, but it was time for Babar and Hafeez to ensure that the start was sustained.
In spite of scoring just the four runs in the first 30 odd deliveries, it was clear that Pakistan were well and truly on the winning track. This also meant that there would be a requirement for some quick and aggressive batting down the order. Shoaib Malik would eventually be the one to ensure that this would happen.
Malik was supported by Umar Akmal. Ironically, the duo were not given much of a chance in the previous months, but there was indeed solace in the fact that they were once again, as they had done on many an occasion to lead Pakistan to a win, something they did in fantastic fashion to say the least. At the close, after an impressive 42 from Malik, it was a wide from Travis Head that ensured a win for Mohammad Hafeez and his men as they now find themselves with all to play for in the third ODI in Sydney.
Australia: 220 all out in 48.3 overs (S Smith 60; M Amir 3/47)
Pakistan: 221/4 in 47.4 overs (M Hafeez 72; J Faulkner 2/35)