Iftikhar Ahmed blitz not enough as Pakistan lose second T20 against Australia
Steve Smith hits sparkling fifty as hosts chase down 151 in Canberra and men in green lose seventh T20 out of eight completed games in 2019
Pakistan put up a better effort in the second T20 against Australia in Canberra but the hosts still eased to a seven-wicket win on Tuesday.
Pakistan posted 150-6 batting first, thanks to another composed knock from captain Babar Azam (50) and an explosive 62 not out off only 34 balls from Iftikhar Ahmed at No 6.
That gave Pakistan a competitive total to defend and the bowlers tried their best. But a majestic 80 not out from Steve Smith ensured the Aussies eventually won with nine balls to spare. Pakistan – still the top-ranked team – have now lost seven out of eight completed T20 matches in 2019
Top order debacle
As was the case in the washed-out Sydney T20, Pakistan's top order crumbled. Opener Fakhar Zaman (2) was out for his fifth consecutive single digit score in T20 Internationals, while Haris Sohail was out to the same ugly swipe over the on-side to Kane Richardson for the second match in a row.
It was left to Babar to again to hold the innings together. He scored 50 off 38 balls before a sensational direct hit by David Warner from the deep found him short. At 106-5 after 16 overs, it looked like game, set and match for Australia.
Middle-order batsman Iftikhar is a specialist when it comes to big-hitting in white-ball cricket. He at last brought that form to the big stage on Tuesday. He took a particular liking to Richardson, dispatching him for two fours and two sixes in the 19th over to put the spring back in Pakistan's stride.
His knock included five fours and three sixes, injecting some much needed power into his team's performance.
Iftikhar, 29, also continued a remarkable trend in white-ball matches in 2019. In six matches in T20s and ODIs, he has an average of 165 and a strike rate of more than 150 as he has not yet been dismissed. Babar will surely promote him up the order in the final T20 which Pakistan must win to avoid a series defeat.
That man Smith again
If you are a bowler facing Smith on a decent wicket, good luck. The Australian is in such form that most teams enter the ground hoping to minimise the damage. Even as Pakistan's bowlers exerted good pressure on other batsmen, Smith more than made up for it by hitting 11 fours and one six during his knock that took only 51 balls.
Smith's innings showed that batting in T20 cricket doesn't have to be all about power – timing the ball and finding the gaps still gets the job done.
Updated: November 5, 2019 03:59 PM