Pakistani cricketers usually make a wretched bunch on Australian tours and sometimes have even fought with hotchpotch sides in Down Under warm-up games. But in their tour opening T20 versus Cricket Australia (CA) XI on Thursday, they were pretty dominant, sweeping their opponents with six wickets and 13 balls to spare in Sydney.
Granted that the CA XI was mostly composed of second-tier cricketers, most of whom had never played at the highest level, but it was still an impressive feat on the part of Pakistan.
The Babar Azam-led side was on their get-go way after losing the toss and being told to bowl first, picking up the first wicket on the very first pitch. The damage has been done by Mohammad Irfan, the return colossus, the 7’1 behemoth.
Everybody else added to double figures after Ryan Gibson (0), but none of the batsmen were able to play long innings. Therefore, it was not seen a massive score.
The real demolition man though was legspinner Shadab Khan, who took three wickets for 30 runs in his four overs. Where Shadab was the most destructive, Irfan was the most economical, giving away just 19 runs in his four overs to go with his first-ball wicket.
Shadab found his missing mojo with the ball and so Azam and Fakhar Zaman did too, but with the bat. The pair dealt the Australian bowlers with ease and formed a 78-run partnership for the opening wicket.
The game was pretty much over, thanks to the salve up top. Azam had a 29-ball 34, Zaman a 39-ball 43 and Haris Sohail (32 off 22 balls).
Khushdil Shah, the new batsmen picked for the upcoming T20I series with the real Australia, did not get to bat unfortunately.
Shadab was named the player of the match but Irfan’s impact was also pretty important.
The first T20I between Pakistan and Australia will be played on Sunday at the Sydney Cricket Ground.