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September 10, 2012
Australia 168 for 7 (Warner 59, Watson 47, Ajmal 2-19) beat Pakistan 74 (Starc 3-11, Cummins 3-15) by 94 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Australia began the series with one of their worst Twenty20 losses but they finished it with their second-best win in the format, crushing Pakistan by 94 runs in the dead rubber in Dubai. David Warner and Shane Watson set up the victory with an Australian-record opening partnership before Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc ran through Pakistan, who suffered their worst defeat in a T20 international and were all out for 74, their lowest total in the format.
Pakistan still won the series 2-1 but if the old sporting cliché that you're only as good as your last performance can be trusted, the Australians will be reasonably happy when they arrive in Sri Lanka in the next few days for the ICC World Twenty20. The fact that Warner and Watson both fired and found their six-hitting rhythm would be especially pleasing for the captain George Bailey, although some more runs from the middle order would have been preferable.
Cummins was outstanding with the new ball as Pakistan slumped to 19 for 5 in the chase, and Brad Hogg's 1 for 11 - the most economical four-over spell by an Australian in a T20 international - was another positive sign for the Australians. They narrowly missed out on bettering their most comprehensive T20 victory, the 95-run defeat they inflicted on South Africa at the Gabba in January 2006, and it was a win Australia desperately needed, having fallen to tenth on the ICC T20 rankings.
Pursuing 169 for a clean sweep, Pakistan simply couldn't get into the chase. Imran Nazir was lbw to a Starc inswinger in the second over and Cummins picked up two wickets in the next over, Mohammad Hafeez caught at cover and Shoaib Malik bowled for a third-ball duck by a super inswinger that swerved in between bat and pad.
Starc picked up his second wicket when he had Kamran Akmal caught off a leading edge and Umar Akmal followed soon afterwards when he thought he connected well enough to clear deep midwicket off Watson, only to see Michael Hussey run around the boundary rope and take an excellent catch while staying just inside the field of play. At 19 for 5, Pakistan were all but gone.
The offspinner Glenn Maxwell claimed his first international wicket, in his sixth match, when Nasir Jamshed, who top scored with 17, pushed a catch to cover. Abdul Razzaq and Yasir Arafat batted for a while, though not threatening to lift the run-rate, before Hogg was rewarded for his fine bowling when Arafat misread the wrong'un and was caught at slip for 15.
Hogg was then involved in the run-out of Umar Gul, before Cummins and Starc returned to claim a third wicket each as Pakistan were dismissed for 74 in the 20th over. It confirmed the 94-run margin - Pakistan's previous worst loss was 48 runs - but Pakistan will be keen to put this match out of their minds and remember the first two games when they head to Sri Lanka for the World T20.
Australia will go there with some confidence in their openers after they put on a 111-run stand, beating the previous Australian record opening stand of 104. When the Warner-Watson partnership ended Australia lost seven wickets for 57, and the slump was their only concern for the day, though it did not prove to be problematic.
Pakistan's fast bowlers helped Warner and Watson out with a few length deliveries that were dispatched to the boundary or over it early in the innings, and three sixes thumped over midwicket by Watson in one over from Shoaib Malik really got the Australian innings moving. Warner followed that with three sixes off Raza Hasan in the next over, and then showcased his switch-hitting ability by changing to a right-handed position and slogging Saeed Ajmal over the left-hander's cover for six.
He raced to his half-century from 28 deliveries and Watson seemed destined for a fifty as well, until he hooked Arafat's slower bouncer to short fine leg for 47 from 32 balls. Arafat, included at the expense of Sohail Tanvir, also got rid of Warner, who skied a catch for 59 from 34 balls. After that, the Australians couldn't find the same sort of momentum, although Maxwell, promoted to No.3, struck one hefty six in his 27 from 20 balls before he slog-swept Hasan to deep midwicket.
Only one other batsman managed a boundary: Michael Hussey, who scored 12 from 14 balls. It was to Pakistan's credit that they ran through the middle order so efficiently. Bailey was bowled for 3 when he tried to slog-sweep Ajmal; Cameron White was caught at long-on off Gul for a four-ball duck; and Hussey was bowled to give Ajmal figures of 2 for 19 from four overs.
Daniel Christian was the final man out, caught behind off Gul (2 for 30) in the final over, and the Australians finished with Matthew Wade on 6 and Cummins on 1. But it was what Cummins did with the ball that was most impressive.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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