Pakistan clinch Twenty20 series
Pakistan beat Australia by 11 runs in the second MCC Spirit of Cricket Twenty20 international at Edgbaston to wrap up a 2-0 series win.
After Kamran Akmal's 33 from 25 balls helped Pakistan post 162 for nine, their bowlers were able to dismiss Australia for the second game running and spark noisy celebrations.
Left-arm paceman Mohammad Aamer led the Pakistan attack with 3-27, matching the figures he returned in yesterday’s 23-run win at the same venue.
That victory had ended Pakistan’s 12-match losing run against Australia in all formats and the series success should serve to provide a confidence boost ahead of the two-Test MCC Spirit of Cricket series, which begins at Lord’s next week.
Australia’s only real bright spot came in the form of left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe who claimed 3-29 on his international debut.
O’Keefe’s selection was one of two changes to the Australian side; he came in along with James Hopes, in place of Shane Watson and Steve Smith, while Pakistan were unchanged.
With Watson out, Michael Clarke moved to the top of the order for his side’s chase. Under pressure to retain his place in the side, Clarke took 15 from his first eight deliveries before David Warner was trapped lbw by Aamer.
Tim Paine then drove Shoaib Akhtar to Umar Gul for a duck, and while Clarke looked to maintain his belligerence with back-to-back boundaries off Aamer, the captain chopped the next ball onto his stumps.
The right-hander’s 30 from 17 balls may have restored some faith regarding his place in the team, but his departure left Australia in trouble at 33 for three after four overs.
A stand of 50 from 46 balls between Hopes and David Hussey steadied the chase before quick glovework from Kamran Akmal ensured the vital breakthrough.
The wicketkeeper whipped off the bails with Hopes barely out of his ground to end his 28-ball 30 and spark the delight of bowler Afridi who celebrated in typically unguarded style.
Afridi then had dangerman Cameron White caught in the deep before David Hussey offered a simple return catch on 33 to Saeed Ajmal as Australia’s batting began to creak against spin for the second game running.
But with Mike Hussey still at the crease, Pakistan still feared a repeat of his World Twenty20 semi-final heroics.
The Western Australian briefly threatened as he flicked Gul for back-to-back boundaries to leave Australia needing 27 from 17 balls.
However, Gul struck a vital blow two balls later when he trapped Mike Hussey in front for 25.
The impressive Aamer then pinned Mitchell Johnson in front for nought and 19 needed off the final over for last pair Dirk Nannes and Shaun Tait proved too much.
Pakistan had earlier started badly with the bat when Shahzaib Hasan fell lbw for his second duck of the series as part-timer David Hussey opened the innings with an unlikely wicket.
Kamran Akmal and Salman Butt recovered from the early setback in a stand of 61 from 42 balls before debutant O’Keefe struck with the final ball of his first over in national colours.
Butt, on 31, top-edged a sweep to short fine-leg where White took a diving catch.
Kamran Akmal, having seen David Hussey carry his drive to long-on over the rope, departed from Johnson’s next ball for 33 when he skied to Clarke at midwicket, but that only brought Umar Akmal to the crease, after his match-winning 64 from 31 balls yesterday.
The 20-year-old was soon peppering the boundaries alongside Afridi, although the skipper stole some of his limelight when he thrashed Shaun Tait over his head and into the construction site at the old members’ end.
The pair added 30 from 20 deliveries before they fell to back-to-back balls from Nannes.
Umar Akmal, on 25, skied a high steepling shot which Nannes did well to hold onto, before he produced a short ball to catch the gloves of Afridi on 18 and fly through to wicketkeeper Paine. Aamer nicked the hat-trick ball through the vacant slip area for four.
Those dismissals began a tumble of late wickets, with O’Keefe finding the stumps of both Gul and Shoaib in the penultimate over.
Aamer was able to supply some late hitting, launching O’Keefe over midwicket, to finish unbeaten on 21 from 11 balls in a strong all-round display.