Pakistan bowlers kept the tradition of removing the Australian openers in the first powerplay alive during the third ODI at WACA, Perth. Just seven balls before the first fielding restrictions concluded, Junaid Khan struck with a good-length delivery on the off-stump to remove David Warner, after a long rally of play-and-miss deliveries.
Four balls later, Mohammad Amir curtailed Usman Khawaja’s stay at the wicket to just 20 balls when he induced an inside-edge of the left-hander’s bat to be safely gloved by Mohammad Rizwan.
With Pakistan looking to make further inroads into the Australian line-up, Steven Smith shattered the visitors’ ambitions with an unbeaten 104-ball 108.
Pakistan’s head coach Mickey Arthur, while commending the Australian captain’s profound knock, hinted it to be a blueprint of success for his batsmen. “I hope a couple of our batsmen watched how he [Smith] batted in the middle overs,” said Arthur. “He is a class player and he timed the chase to the perfection.”
Smith, however, had not shut every possible door to Pakistan’s success. The Mohammad Hafeez-led unit had the opportunity of mounting pressure on the batsmen at the other end. Many who watched the game would say that their stand-in skipper did workout Aussie minds with his attacking field-set. He put three slips and a gully for Australia’s third debutant of the year, Peter Handscomb, but a catch on the no-ball and a dropped chance at backward point helped the 25-year-old to score 82.
“Any chance of exerting any pressure was to take wickets. We just cannot drop catches. It was a disappointing performance,” the South African said.
Despite an ordinary show on Thursday, Arthur remained confident about Pakistan’s chances of bagging the five-match series. When asked whether he was hopeful that his side will win, Arthur said: “I am definitely.”
Pakistan have not won an ODI series in Australia in the last 15 years but the low-bounce wickets at Sydney and Adelaide provide an opportunity to end the losing streak.