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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 October 2018

Zaman stars against to lead Pakistan to tri-series final win over Australia

Opening batsman hit another career-best innings to guide his side to a six-wicket victory in Harare

Fakhar Zaman in action during his career-best 91-run innings to lead Pakistan to victory over Australia. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP Photo
Fakhar Zaman in action during his career-best 91-run innings to lead Pakistan to victory over Australia. Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi / AP Photo

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 183-8, 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 off-spin 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.

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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.

Zaman has now led Pakistan's charge in each of the past three tri-series matches. He top-scored against Zimbabwe in the seven-wicket win on Wednesday, before hitting his previous career-best innings against Australia in a 45-run win.

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 95-0 after the first 10 overs, Australia lost 8-88 and their 183-8 was not quite enough to better Pakistan in the final analysis.