Babar, Imam help Pakistan win series against Australia after 20 years

By our correspondent

LAHORE: Babar Azam (105*) and Imam-ul-Haq (89*) shared 190 for the unbroken second wicket as Pakistan romped to a nine-wicket victory over Australia to win the three-match ODI series 2-1 here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday.

In the day-night encounter Pakistan rode on their pacer’s terrific bowling in the start which at one stage saw Australia reducing to 6-3 and that turned out to be the decisive factor in the game.

This was after 20 long years that Pakistan won a series against Australia. Imam’s 298 runs in three matches of the series enabled him to surpass Graham Gooch’s 289 in 1985 in a three-match series. Babar, the masterclass, who hit his second successive hundred, finished with 276 and it stands him third in the race. After losing Fakhar Zaman early both Babar and Imam played sensibly and dominated the second string Australia’s side to chase the 211-run target in the 38th over.

Aaron Finch used seven bowlers in search of finding a breakthrough but it did not happen. After Babar survived when on three when Travis Head dropped him at square-leg off the recalled Jason Behrendorff, the Pakistani skipper did not put a foot wrong and reached his 16th ODI century.

Earlier after being invited to bat first Australia had a disastrous start when Shaheen Afridi bowled Travis Head (0) off the first ball of the innings before Haris Rauf sent skipper Aaron Finch (0) back in the next over to put huge pressure on the visitors. Haris Rauf then removed Marnus Labuschagne (4) to leave Australia reeling at 6-3.  Alex Carey (56) and Sean Abbott (49) batted well in the end which enabled Australia reach 210 all out in the 42nd over.

It was in fact super bowling from Haris Rauf (3-39) and Shaheen (2-40) earlier on in the innings which put Australia on the back foot. Mohammad Wasim Junior (3-40) ripped through the middle and lower order which ended the visitors chance to put on a fighting total.

Babar was adjudged as man of the match and man of the series.