HYDERABAD - Australia secured a hard-fought 14-run win against Pakistan, despite impressive performances by Babar Azam and Iftikhar Ahmed, who both scored fifties in a thrilling warm-up match ahead of the ICC World Cup 2023.
Facing a challenging target of 352 runs, Pakistan came close to a confidence-boosting victory but were eventually bowled out for 337. The match had its share of ups and downs, with Pakistan losing four wickets for just 83 runs within the first 15 overs of their innings. However, the tide turned when Babar Azam, Pakistan’s regular captain, joined forces with Iftikhar Ahmed.
The duo orchestrated an astonishing recovery, adding a quickfire 144-run partnership. Most of their runs were scored against part-time bowlers like Marnus Labuschagne, David Warner, and Steve Smith. Iftikhar Ahmed played a crucial role, amassing 83 runs off 85 balls, including six boundaries and four sixes. Babar Azam, on the other hand, top-scored with a blistering 90 from 59 balls, featuring 11 boundaries and two sixes.
After Babar’s departure, Australia brought in their main bowlers, applying pressure on the Pakistan batting tail, which crumbled and lost wickets at regular intervals. Marnus Labuschagne led Australia’s bowling attack, taking three wickets, while Pat Cummins and Mitchell Marsh claimed two each. Sean Abbott and Glenn Maxwell also chipped in with one wicket apiece.
In the earlier part of the match, Australia justified their decision to bat first as they capitalized on the batting-friendly pitch, amassing a massive total. The opening pair of David Warner and Mitchell Marsh established a solid foundation with an 83-run partnership before Usama Mir’s consecutive dismissals brought Pakistan back into contention.
Warner contributed 48 runs off 33 balls, including four boundaries and three sixes, while Marsh scored a cautious 31. With the scoreboard reading 92/2 in 14.1 overs, experienced batsman Steve Smith teamed up with Marnus Labuschagne, adding 59 runs before both fell in successive overs.
Glenn Maxwell then took charge, launching an astounding counterattack with a 71- ball 77, featuring four boundaries and six sixes. Maxwell’s brilliance helped Australia reach 351/7 before he was dismissed in the 41st over.
Cameron Green, along with Josh Inglis, contributed crucial runs for Australia, with Green scoring an unbeaten half-century (50* off 40 balls), while Inglis fell just shy of his half-century, scoring 48 off 30 deliveries. Among the Pakistani bowlers, Usama Mir was the standout performer, finishing with figures of 2/31, while Haris Rauf, Mohammad Wasim Jr, Shadab Khan, and Mohammad Nawaz each claimed one wicket.