Cricket Sports

Steve Smith’s 80 not out set seven-wicket win for Australia

Steve Smith handed Australia an unassailable lead over Pakistan in a three-match T20I series by setting up a seven-wicket win for the hosts in the second match at Canberra.

The right-handed batsman cracked a match-winning 80 not out from 51 balls, embellished with 11 fours and a six, as Australia chased down a 151-run target with nine balls spare.

Pakistan left-arm pacers Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Irfan set up the possibility of their side securing their first-ever T20I win on the Australian soil by removing David Warner, unbeaten in his last four outings in the format, and Australian skipper Aaron Finch, respectively, inside the Powerplay overs.

However, a 58-run partnership for the third-wicket between Smith and Ben McDermott (21 off 22) took the game away from the tourists’ grasp.

Australia needed 45 from the last seven overs when Imad Wasim accounted for McDermott’s wicket. Smith ensured that the run chase was not derailed and took the hosts home in what seemed like a comfortable win in the end.

Earlier, Pakistan, after opting to bat, managed 150 for six on the back of half-centuries from their captain Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed.

Babar, who raised his second half-century in as many matches, once again, failed to get the desired support from his top-order batsmen as Fakhar Zaman (tw0 off seven) and Haris Sohail (six off nine) fell earlier in the innings.

The Pakistan captain scored 50 runs from 38 balls, hitting six fours, before he was run out on the last ball of the 16th over with the scorecard reading 106 for six.

Tight spells by Pat Cummins (4-0-19-1) and Ashton Agar (4-0-23-2) kept Pakistan batsmen from accumulating runs, but a blistering knock down the order by Iftikhar took Pakistan to a respectable score.

Playing his fifth match in the format, the 29-year-0ld smashed five fours and three sixes to record his maiden T20I half-century. Iftikhar was unbeaten 62 from 34 balls.

The third and final match of the series will be played at Perth on Friday.

The opening match of the series at Sydney ended in no result due to rain.

Scores in brief:

Pakistan 150-6, 20 overs (Iftikhar Ahmad 62 not out, Babar Azam 50; Ashton Agar 2-23)

Australia 151-3, 18.3 overs (Steve Smith 80 not out, Ben McDermott 21, David Warner 20)

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