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Seldom has the fickleness of Twenty20 been more evident. Pakistan claimed the series against Australia, but did so in circumstances as far removed from the hiding dealt out in the first match as could be imagined. Mohammad Hafeez’s team celebrated their victory in the minutes after midnight in Dubai, yet George Bailey’s Australians could also take solace from a much-improved display.
Two days after being routed for 89 on the way to a seven-wicket hiding, Australia scrapped to an enthralling tie. They owed much to the captain George Bailey, who on his 30th birthday compiled the most critical and substantial innings of his T20 career to date, proving his worth as a batsman as well as a captain in the process.
Hafeez and Jamshed then combined for a noteworthy partnership, which alternated between the considered and the cantankerous in terms of strokeplay. Jamshed was the beneficiary of an uncharacteristic dropped catch by Michael Hussey from the bowling of his brother David, and capitalised by taking to Hogg in his first overseas international since 2007.
Jamshed’s stay was ended by a stupendous diving snare from Dan Christian, sprinting with the flight of the ball and sticking out a despairing hand, then finding with great delight after he landed that the ball had stuck. Watson turfed a less difficult chance from Hafeez off Starc, though he atoned for the error by having Pakistan’s captain caught in the deep the following over.
The run-rate had hovered around seven, and helped by a steady diet of full tosses the brothers Akmal took it past 7.5 in the closing overs. Umar would be called on for an encore, as Pakistan enjoyed the right side of the nearest run thing many of them will have seen.