Pakistan took on Australia in match 17 of World Cup 2019 at Taunton on Wednesday (June 12). Both these teams arrived for their fourth game of the tournament. While Pakistan sat at eighth position in the points table with one loss, a win and a rain-abandoned draw before this contest, Australia was ranked fourth with a loss superseding the team's two victories at the start of the event.
At the toss, having assessed a deck that offered good seam movement under overcast conditions in Somerset, Pakistan skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed decided to bowl first.
But despite that, openers Aaron Finch and David Warner had a solid 146-run partnership to start off the Australian innings. Finch made 82 and Warner struck a ton (107) to build the foundation for a strong total.
However, in trying to increase run-rate, the middle-order took a few risks which didn't quite pay off as Steven Smith (10), Shaun Marsh (23), Usman Khawaja (18), Alex Carey (20) got starts, but not big decisive knocks.
Australia finished with 307 all out in 49 overs, with Pakistan pacer Mohammad Amir scalping a five-fer (5/30) and Hassan Ali (1/67), Wahab Riaz (1/44) and Shaheen Afridi (2/70) also chipping in with the ball.
In the run-chase, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman very early for a duck. But Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam had a fine second-wicket stand of 54 runs before Babar was dismissed for 30. Imam, though, kept batting and had another very good 80-run partnership with Mohammad Hafeez. Pakistan's quest to chase down 308 looked on.
But that is exactly when Imam (53) and Hafeez (46) fell off in quick succession to kickstart a collapse. Shoaib Malik (0) and Asif Ali (5) came and departed in literally no time to leave their team reeling.
Hassan Ali had a short cameo where he smashed 32 off just 15 balls. This was an enterprising effort glint with three fours and three sixes. But he too went away soon and it all came down on skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed to try and keep Pakistan's hopes alive.
Nevertheless, Sarfaraz got an able partner in Wahab Riaz, who took a lot of pressure off him by striking a few timely blows towards and over the boundary line and let his captain continue taking the game deep.
Wahab, infact, batted magnificently for his 45. He had a superb duel with his skipper for 64 precious runs. The left-arm pacer hit two fours and three big sixes, while Sarfaraz kept nudging it around to take things close.
Wahab finally got out edged and caught behind off Mitchell Starc just when Pakistan had started believing. Mohammad Amir (0) followed him soon.
With another 41 runs needed off 26 balls, Sarfaraz (40) bizarrely got run-out at the other end as Pakistan's longstanding fight eventually culminated in a loss. The team got bundled out for 266 in 45.4 overs.
For Australia, Pat Cummins (3/33), Mitchell Starc (2/43), Kane Richardson (2/63) and Nathan Coulter-Nile (1/53) delivered fine spells to win the game.