Akmal outshines Watson
Abu Dhabi: Kamran Akmal hit an aggressive century to overshadow Shane Watson’s hundred as Pakistan beat Australia by seven wickets in the fifth and final match at here on Sunday.
Akmal struck an unbeaten 116 and added a Pakistan record of 198 for the fourth wicket with Misbah-ul-Haq (76 not out) to help his team chase a challenging 251-run target with three overs to spare. Watson’s 116 not-out was the cornerstone for Australia’s 250-4. Despite the defeat, Australia took the five-match series 3-2.
Akmal and Haq got together with Pakistan struggling at 56-3 after 16 overs. They lifted the quality of batting, which had earlier been mainly to blame for Pakistan’s defeat in the last three matches. Akmal, who managed 19, eight and one in the last three games, took full advantage of a pitch which offered little help to the bowlers.
Akmal hit Michael Clarke for his 13th boundary to reach his fifth one-day hundred — each time he has done so, Pakistan have been the winning side. Haq, whose highest score in the series was 30 in the first match, hit his 10th boundary to bring up the win. The previous best fourth wicket-stand in all Pakistan-Australia ODI matches was 173 made by Australia’s Dean Jones and Steve Waugh at Perth in 1987. Before the record stand, Pakistan had lost Salman Butt (nought), Younus Khan (27) and Ahmed Shahzad (19).
Earlier, Watson hit his second ODI hundred to steer Australia to a competitive total — the highest in this series from both sides. Watson set the platform for the big total, putting stands of 58 for the first wicket with Brad Haddin (36) and another 57 for the third with skipper Clarke (26). Watson struck six fours and two sixes during his 146-ball knock. He also added 84 for the unfinished fifth wicket stand with Calum Ferguson (41 not out).
Watson’s partnership with Haddin gave Australia a brisk start before paceman Shoaib Akhtar separated the two, claiming Haddin caught by Younus off a miscued drive. Haddin hit seven boundaries during his brisk 31-ball knock.
Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal, whose action was reported illegal after the second match but was played despite the decision, removed Marcus North (five), stumped by wicket-keeper Akmal. Clarke, who hit a brilliant unbeaten 100 in Australia’s eight-wicket win in the fourth match here on Friday, steadied the innings with Watson before Gul had him caught behind the wicket. It was left to Watson and Ferguson to give the impetus to the innings, taking 54 off the last 10 overs.
The two teams play a Twenty20 match in Dubai on May 7.