Akmal outshines Watson in Pak win
DUBAI: 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 Sheikh Zayed Stadium here on Sunday.
The 27-year-old wicket-keeper batsman 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 in 50 overs.
Despite the defeat, Australia took the five-match series 3-2 after winning the second match by six wickets, the third by 27 runs and fourth by eight wickets. Pakistan won the first match by four wickets.
Akmal and Haq got together with Pakistan struggling at 56-3 after 16 overs. They opened up gradually and 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, drove and cut beautifully as he 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. In all, Akmal batted for 115 deliveries.
Haq, whose highest score in the series was 30 in the first match, hit his tenth boundary to bring up the win. He batted for 81 deliveries.
The previous best fourth wicket-stand in all Pakistan-Australia one-day 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).
Pakistan captain Younus praised his batsmen as his side showed improvement from previous displays.
"I just asked them to rotate the strike, it was nice that our batsmen showed commitment this time," said Younus. "It's nice to end the series on a high note although we wanted to win the series."
Australian captain Michael Clarke said he thought a 251-target would be enough.
"We did not bowl well," he said. "Going by totals in the previous matches we thought we had put a good total but they (Pakistan) batted very well."
Earlier, Watson hit his second one-day 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) after Australia won the toss and batted.
Watson, who came to this series after recovering from a stress fracture of his back in November last year, struck six boundaries and two sixes during his 146-ball knock.
He also added 84 for the unfinished fifth wicket stand with Calum Ferguson (41 not out) as Australia made 54 runs in the last ten overs.
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 ten overs.
The two teams play a Twenty20 match in Dubai on May 7.