x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Thrill of a rare successful run chase pleases Pakistan

Mature batting in achieving victory in Abu Dhabi delights captain Misbah-ul-Haq

Nasir Jamshed was the hero of Pakistan's win in Abu Dhabi.
Nasir Jamshed was the hero of Pakistan's win in Abu Dhabi.

ABU DHABI // Without the aid of the internet, it would have been difficult to remember Pakistan's last significant ODI chase before Friday night's - actually yesterday morning - successful overhaul of Australia's 248 in Abu Dhabi.

A muddled batting order, young batsmen not yet adept at managing an innings and a historically nervy mindset has meant that the last time Pakistan ran down more than they did over the weekend was back in February 2011, against New Zealand in Napier.

On Friday-Saturday, however, they capitalised on a bristling start and a chest-out, bullying 97 from Nasir Jamshed - increasingly a key figure in their limited overs sides - to level the three-match series.

After bungling a promising position in Sharjah in the first game, both Misbah-ul-Haq and Dav Whatmore, wanted their batsmen to be smarter about the construction of their innings.

For one game at least, the message got through, leading to only a fourth win in their last 14 ODIs against Australia.

Misbah said: "[Mohammad] Hafeez and Nasir are aggressive batsmen and whenever they stay at the crease, they score runs quickly, especially Nasir who has so many shots and has great timing."

"That was the key for us, that he batted through and made the chase look easy."

"Whatever runs you are chasing, you have pressure on you and especially against a good side. In the past when you have had problems, it does stick in your mind, but the start was very important and after that it looked easy."

Misbah's never been one to crow about triumphs and he repeatedly acknowledged the "big role" heavy dew played in simplifying the chase, happy to have ultimately lost the toss.

Michael Clarke was happy not to use the dew as an excuse, though he admitted his decision at the toss was wrong.

Australia had trained late on Thursday to see precisely what effect the dew might have, but conditions were markedly different on the night of the game.

"It definitely was [the wrong decision to bat first] when you look at how conditions were," he said. "We trained late last night and there was nowhere near that much dew.

"But full credit to Pakistan. They played really well, they bowled really well upfront and then they came out and played really well with the bat. I don't want to take anything away from Pakistan, they outplayed us."

A bigger, continuing concern for Clarke has been the inability of the top four, including himself, to go on and post a big score. The openers failed, Clarke could not capitalise on another silky start and it was left to Michael Hussey and George Bailey to guide Australia through to a competitive total.

Hussey's 61 was typically Hussey; rescue and revival all in one, but Clarke wanted a little more.

"I was just trying to stick to our team plan, to try to build through the middle and have wickets in hand for the last 10-15 overs," said Hussey.

"It would've been nice to kick on a little bit more. Glenn Maxwell came out and played really well, positively and he sort of helped me because I was starting to tire."

The series is now set up perfectly for the decider in Sharjah tomorrow. Both sides have shown and seen enough in the other to feel fairly confident of clinching the series and momentum tends to be an overblown theme in such short series.

Both sides will, however, sweat on the fitness of two key individuals for the encounter.

Shahid Afridi missed the win after he injured his back during fielding practice on Thursday and he faces a fitness test today; even if he does pass it, a return is not guaranteed given that Pakistan will not want to unsettle a winning XI.

Mitchell Starc, meanwhile, went off the field failing to complete his eighth over with what was described later as "chest muscle tightness," but it is not thought to be serious. He will also be assessed today.


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