Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq centuries guide Pakistan to historic win over Australia

By Sports Desk March 31, 2022

Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq hit centuries as Pakistan battled to a six-wicket victory over Australia on Thursday to level up their three-match ODI series at 1-1.

Australia won by 88 runs in Tuesday's opener and looked good value to claim a series win when posting 348-8 from their 50 overs at Gaddafi Stadium.

But led by inspirational skipper Azam (114) and Imam-ul-Haq (106), Pakistan claimed a gripping victory that was sealed by Iftikhar Ahmed (11 not out) with an over to spare.

The victory is Pakistan's first over Australia in 11 ODIs – coming from their highest ever successful ODI chase – and sets up a decider in Lahore on Saturday.

The tourists were cruising at 237-2, despite losing Aaron Finch for a duck, with Ben McDermott becoming the 50th different Australia player to register an ODI century.

Travis Head put on 89 runs and Marcus Stoinis 49 either side of McDermott (104), while Marnus Labuschagne (59) also registered a half-century, but Pakistan soon hit back.

McDermott was finally caught off pacer Mohammad Wasim and, after Alex Carey and Cameron Green fell for five each, Sean Abbott kept his side ticking over with a 16-ball 28.

Australia would have been disappointed to fall below the 400-runs mark, however, with Shaheen Afridi finishing with figures of 4-63, while Wasim took 2-56.

That 349-run target looked even more attainable when Pakistan reached 118 inside 19 overs before Fakhar Zaman (67) was sent packing by Stoinis out of nowhere.

Babar entered the fray at that point alongside Imam-ul-Haq and the pair put the hosts well on their way to a famous win, though momentum was halted slightly when the latter was caught by Labuschagne off Adam Zampa.

Babar was next to go and Zampa then took Mohammad Rizwan (23), but Khushdil Shah (27 not out) and Ahmed saw out the job to keep the series alive.

McDermott century not enough

Seeking an 11th successive ODI win over Pakistan, Australia must have felt they had done enough when McDermott and Head piled on 162 off 144 balls for the second wicket.

But Afridi, who missed the first clash with a knee injury, added to his golden duck of Finch by taking the wickets of Green, Stoinis and Abbott in the space of four overs.

Babar surpasses Azhar

Proving he is the right man for any occasion, Babar's century saw him overtake Azhar Ali for the most ODI hundreds as Pakistan skipper.

Indeed, after hitting 114 off 83 balls – which included 11 fours and one six – Babar is now level with Mohammad Yousuf (15) for the second-most hundreds for Pakistan in 50-over internationals.

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