Ton-up Babar, Imam guide Pakistan to a record chase against Australia

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By our correspondent

LAHORE:  Babar Azam (114) and Imam-ul-Haq (106) hammered defiant centuries as Pakistan defeated Australia by six wickets in a record chase to level the three-match ODI series 1-1 here at the Gaddafi Stadium on Thursday.

Babar and Imam exuded terrific confidence and handled Australia’s inexperienced bowling attack well to enable Pakistan chase the 349 runs target with six balls to spare.

It was Babar’s 15th century in his ODI career and he also became the first Pakistani captain to score a century in ODI against Australia. Chasing a huge total Fakhar Zaman (67) and Imam provided a 118-run opening stand to Pakistan which paved the way for completing a super chase.  After Fakhar was bowled by Stoinis for a fine 67, Babar went onto the crease with steely nerves, wanting to square the series following huge criticism when his brigade faltered in the first game, losing it by a massive 88 runs the other day.

Babar added 111 runs for the second wicket stand with Imam before the latter fell to Adam Zampa after hammering three sixes and six fours from 97 balls. Imam also became the first Pakistani batsman to have scored back-to-back centuries against Australia. However at this stage Babar showed his aggression and completed his fantastic ton to make the chase easier. Ellis removed him in the 45th over before Zampa had Mohammad Rizwan (23) in the next over to create some problems for Pakistan. However Khushdil Shah hit 27 not out off 17 balls to make the hosts home comfortably.

Zampa was the pick of the bowlers with 2-71 in his quota of ten overs. After being invited to bat, Ben McDermott (104) produced his first century to guide Australia to 348-8 in the allotted 50 overs.

McDermott, who hit four sixes and ten fours in his 108-ball knock, added 162 for the second wicket with Travis Head after Australia lost their skipper Aaron Finch for a golden duck when he missed Shaheen Afridi’s full toss in the first over. Travis, who had hit century in the previous game, smashed five sixes and six fours in his 70-ball 89. Marnus Labuschagne’s 49-ball 59 and Marnus Stoinus’s 33-ball 49 ensured Australia’s decent total on the pitch which was full of runs. Sean Abbott in the end smashed a 16-ball 28 to add to Australia’s cause.

Shaheen Afridi, who had missed the previous game, finished with 4-63 in his quota of ten overs. Mohammad Wasim Junior claimed 2-56.

Babar was adjudged as man of the match for his heroic knock. The third and final ODI will be held on Saturday.