Glenn Maxwell scored 76 to help Australia chase down 216 with five wickets – and 40 balls – to spare in their second ODI in Dubai against Pakistan and subsequently secure a series victory.
The big hitter shared a pivotal 85-run fourth wicket stand with captain George Bailey that helped the Aussies on their way to a second 50-over win in four days against Pakistan.
Earlier in the game, Mitchell Johnson took 3-40 as Misbah-ul-Haq’s side were bowled out for 215 in the final over, having suffered a lower order collapse.
After winning the toss, Pakistan opted to bat first, which initially seemed an inspired decision when the scoreboard read 126-0 at the halfway point in their innings.
Openers Ahmed Shehzad (61) and Sarfraz Ahmed (65) both posted half centuries to give their side a great foundation to build a respectable total upon. It was the first time in more than 18 months that Pakistan’s opening pair had put on more than 100 together.
But both opening batsman fell within an over of each other when Australia finally found a way through.
Xavier Doherty had Shehzad caught by Steve Smith before Johnson removed Ahmed just six deliveries later.
After putting on 126 for the opening stand, Pakistan’s next nine wickets fell for just an additional 89 runs. It wasn’t long before Maxwell’s throw had Misbah-ul-Haq (15) ran out for the third wicket.
Johnson had his second wicket – and Smith his second catch – when Umar Akmal (5) returned to the dressing room with the score now 168-4.
Fawad Alam made 20 not out and offered some resistance, but wickets fell all around him in the closing stages.
There were two more run outs, with Smith and Kane Richardson involved in dismissing Raza Hasan (0) and Mohammad Irfan (0) respectively.
Danger man Shahid Afridi was removed for just two as Johnson claimed his third wicket – Smith had a good day in the field, taking yet another catch to remove Pakistan’s T20 skipper.
There was a wicket apiece for James Faulkner, Nathan Lyon and Richardson as Pakistan were all out for 215 with three balls of their innings remaining.
Australia began their reply with haste, but lost their first three batsmen in the opening 14 overs. Openers David Warner (29) and Aaron Finch (14) both scored at more than a run a ball but didn’t stick around the crease for too long.
Steve Smith (12) also went early on, unable to repeat the century he scored a few days earlier as he became Zulfiqar Babar’s first victim of the day.
At 72-3, the Aussies were well ahead of their required run rate, but at risk of repeating Pakistan’s middle and lower order collapse.
However, a key partnership soon developed between Bailey and Maxwell. The skipper scored only 28 from 68 balls as he played a supporting role to the right-hander.
Maxwell smashed nine fours and one six in his 76 as he carried his side closer to their victory target. Even after Bailey was run out, he continued to score alongside Faulkner.
Babar got his second wicket when he had Maxwell caught by Asad Shafiq though.
With the score 178-5, Faulkner (26*) and Brad Haddin (17*) saw the Australians home with more than six overs to spare to secure a series win.