Batsmen fire again as Australia complete 5-0 sweep of Pakistan

By Sports Desk March 31, 2019

Australia's top order fired once again as they completed a 5-0 whitewash of Pakistan with a 20-run victory in the fifth ODI in Sharjah, despite a fine hundred from Haris Sohail.

Steve Smith and David Warner are now available for selection after completing 12-month bans for their part in last year's ball-tampering scandal, but on recent evidence it will be no easy task finding places for the former skipper and vice-captain at the upcoming Cricket World Cup.

All of Australia's top four passed 50 on Sunday as the tourists racked up an imposing total of 327-7, Usman Khawaja leading the way with 98 – his seventh score in excess of 50 in his last 10 ODI, including two centuries.

Skipper Aaron Finch contributed 53 to an opening stand of 134 and finishes the series with 451 runs, while Shaun Marsh added 61 and Glenn Maxwell provided excellent acceleration late on with a typically flamboyant 70 from 33 deliveries.

Haris compiled 130 from 129 balls in reply and shared century partnerships with Shan Masood (50) and Umar Akmal (43) to keep Pakistan in the hunt.

However, the respective dismissals of Umar and Haris in the 40th and 41st overs left Pakistan with too much to do and they fell short on 307-7 despite an unbeaten 50 from stand-in captain Imad Wasim.

Australia have now won eight ODIs in a row and could not be in better form ahead of the World Cup, which begins in two months.

Khawaja and Finch faced a few nervy moments early on after Pakistan won the toss and chose to bowl, but Australia's openers were soon in command once again as they put on 134 in 23.2 overs.

Usman Shinwari accounted for the pair, with Khawaja picking out midwicket to miss out on another hundred, yet Marsh made his second fifty of the series and Maxwell raised the tempo superbly, thumping 10 fours and three sixes.

A flurry of late wickets saw Shinwari and Junaid Khan finish with 4-49 and 3-73 respectively, before Abid Ali – a centurion on debut last time out – fell to the recalled Jason Behrendorff for a golden duck at the start of the Pakistan chase.

Haris, who made his maiden ODI hundred last week, anchored the innings superbly thereafter and a tense finale was in prospect as he and Umar combined to leave 93 needed from 11 overs, with six wickets in hand.

Both set batsmen fell in quick succession to Lyon and Kane Richardson, though, and Imad's fighting fifty was not enough for Pakistan.

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