x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Pakistan clinch Twenty20 series win after Superover victory

Game had ended in a tie in Dubai with both sides scoring 151 in their 20 overs.

Saeed Ajmal took two wickets for Pakistan, but it took a Superover for his team to clinch victory.
Saeed Ajmal took two wickets for Pakistan, but it took a Superover for his team to clinch victory.

DUBAI // The lesser-spotted Abdul Razzaq emerged from the sidings to helpPakistanto a thrilling win at Sports City last night, and thus clinch the Twenty20 series with one match still to play.

The seasoned all-rounder had spent virtually all of the preceding 79 overs of this series as a spectator.

However, with Australia requiring 10 to win off the final over, Mohammed Hafeez gave Razzaq his belated introduction.

Figures of one over, two wickets for nine runs were good enough to force the first ever Superover to be seen in Dubai.

Razzaq then became the hero with the bat as he and Umar Akmal saw Pakistan to victory in the Superover, successfully passing Australia's score of 11 for one off their six balls.

He and Akmal both hit one boundary each as Pakistan scored 12 without loss to clinch the victory.

Last night's game was a sell-out, and the atmosphere was the sort of raucous, pulsating fare that you take as a given when Pakistan play.

It took a while for every seat to be filled, and for most of the Pakistan innings, the aisles and gangways in the stands nearest the main entrance had to pass for makeshift seats.

The frenzy bubbled over a few times. On three occasions, lone Pakistan supporters hurdled the barriers and invaded the playing area.

Officialdom went easy on the first two miscreants.

A security guard even helped the young boy who had run on when Razzaq came to the wicket back over the fence. Why spoil a party in such jolly swing? Enough was enough when a third went running on, and was unceremoniously ambushed by a gang of security men.

Australia were not necessarily enjoying the carnival at that point. They have been out of sorts since the 50 over series ended, and there were early signs the pressure was getting to them.

Mike Hussey, who is usually so safe under the high ball, dropped Nasir Jamshed when he was on 13.

It was relatively costly. Jamshed made it to 45 when his luck run out, undone by an unbelievable one-handed diving catch by Dan Christian, running backwards at mid-on. Find it on YouTube now: it will be time well spent.

Shane Watson could not repeat those heroics when he put down Hafeez shortly after, when the captain was on 43. That spill was less damaging: Hafeez only made two more before departing.

The Akmal brothers, Umar and Kamran, then shared an alliance worth 46 to lift Pakistan to 151, which seemed likely to prove a stiff benchmark given Pakistan's nominal bowling resources.

Australia would have coasted to the target if David Warner had stuck around much longer than he managed at the start of the reply. He blazed 31 in 19 deliveries but then went the way it feels like every Australian batsman has at least once over the past two weeks - bowled by Saeed Ajmal.

George Bailey, the uncharacteristically timid captain of Australia, exhibited some typically Australian grit as he guided his side to the brink of victory with 43 from 27 balls.

However, when he skied a long hop from Razzaq to Yasir Arafat at the start of the final over with 10 needed, his side seemed sunk.

They managed to scramble to the single over play-off, but Akmal and Razzaq were good enough to clinch the win as the clock ticked over into the early hours of today.

pradley@thenational.ae

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