Babar and Imam both score 100s as Pakistan level the ODI series with a 6-wicket victory over Australia

Pakistan ended a 10-match losing streak against Australia, which was missing several key players and had only 13 fit players to choose from.

Pakistan levelled the three-match series against a depleted Australia with its biggest ever successful run-chase in an ODI on Thursday, with captain Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq smashing powerful centuries.

Pakistan reached 349-4 with an over to spare for a six-wicket victory, thanks to Babar’s blistering 114 off 83 balls and Imam’s 106.

Babar had won the toss and elected to field for the second game in a row, leading Australia to a massive total of 348-8. The cornerstone of Australia’s strong total was Ben McDermott’s (104) maiden test century.

After Babar and Imam had dominated an inexperienced Australian bowling attack, Khushdil Shah scored an unbeaten 27 off 17 balls and Iftikhar Ahmed (8 not out) raised Pakistan’s memorable victory with six balls to spare.

After Australia defended 313-7 in the first game of the three-match series, Travis Head (89) missed out on his second consecutive century, while Marnus Labuschagne (59) and Marcus Stoinis (49) also cameoed to set up another challenging total for Pakistan.

After the white-ball squad in Lahore was hit by COVID-19, Pakistan had a 10-match losing streak against Australia, which was missing several key players and only had 13 fit players to choose from.

Pakistan’s imposing chase surpassed its previous best 50-over chase, when it made 329-7 to beat Bangladesh by three wickets in an Asia Cup game at Mirpur in 2014.

Imam’s century was in vain two days ago when Australia won by an emphatic 88-run margin, but the left-handed opener ensured Pakistan did not slip up for the second time in a row by contributing to two solid century partnerships.

Imam put on a blistering 118-run stand with Fakhar Zaman, who scored 67 before being clean bowled in the 19th over by Stoinis’ slower delivery.

Babar dominated the twin spin threats of Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson with a flurry of boundaries on both sides of the wickets, causing Australia’s understrength bowling attack to crack.

Babar and Imam
Babar and Imam

Imam, who earlier this month scored centuries in both innings against Australia in the first test, batted resolutely and hit six fours and three sixes before being caught at long-on off Zampa in the 35th over.

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But Babar, who was chastised in the first game for his slow strike rate, dominated the spinners and inexperienced fast bowlers, scoring a century off just 71 balls.

Babar was caught at mid-wicket by Labuschagne in Ellis’ return spell in the 45th over with Pakistan needing 40 runs to win, but Khushdil kept his cool and guided Pakistan to victory with two sixes and two fours.

After captain Aaron Finch was out plumb leg before wicket off the first ball he faced from Shaheen Afridi, McDermott added 162 runs for the second wicket with Head after he scored his maiden ODI half century in Australia’s 88-run win on Tuesday.

McDermott reached his half-century with a straight six off left-arm spinner Iftikhar, and raised his century with a similar shot against Khushdil.

Before missing a full toss from Mohammad Wasim and holeing out to mid-wicket, McDermott hit 10 fours and four sixes, but Stoinis provided a late flourish with his breezy knock off 33 balls.

Afridi, who had missed the first game due to a knee injury, took three late wickets for a total of 4-63, but it was the Pakistan spinners who struggled against Australia’s top-order batsmen.

Iftikhar and Khushdil combined for 95 runs in their ten overs, while Zahid Mahmood took Head for 71 runs in his ten overs. Head top-edged a sweep against the leg-spinner.

The third and final One-Day International will be played on Saturday, before Australia wraps up its tour in Pakistan with a one-off Twenty20 match on Tuesday.

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