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Australia nicked a low scoring thriller on Tuesday night to kick-off the ODI Series in Sharjah. Batting first on winning the toss, Pakistan stuttered to 198 all out, despite attractive half-centuries by Asad Shafiq (56) and Umar Akmal (52). But a lower order collapse triggered by Mitchell Starc meant that the hosts failed to make their way past 200. Australia had their own troubles batting, stuttering to 67-4 before Michael Clarke (66) and George Bailey (57*) rescued the innings. A cameo 38 from Glenn Maxwell though was the crucial innings at the end which pushed Australia closer to the finish line before Bailey took the side home.
Earlier in the day, James Pattinson removed Mohammad Hafeez (4) and Azhar Ali (5) in successive overs to put Pakistan on the backfoot before Mitchell Starc claimed the first of his 5 victims by removing opener Nasir Jamshed for 23 as Pakistan slumped to 40-3. Misbah-ul-Haq and Asad Shafiq added 59 runs for the fourth wicket before the skipper was bowled by Dan Christian for 26.
Shafiq then found a new partner in the effervescent Umar Akmal, and added 61 runs with him for the 5th wicket to put the Pakistan innings back on track. Starc though broke the Shafiq-Akmal partnership by first knocking over the former before running through the lower middle order as Pakistan slid from 160-4 to 198 all out. Starc finished with figures of 5-42, while his new ball partner Pattinson was just as impressive taking 3 wickets for 19 runs.
Chasing a meagre 199 to win, Australia struggled against the Pakistan spinners with Mohammad Hafeez removing David Warner for just 5 to put the visitors on the backfoot straight away. Michael Clarke held the Australian innings together making an excellent 66, his fifth consecutive ODI fifty in the UAE while wickets fell around him.
Matthew Wade (10), Michael Hussey (5) and David Hussey (3) failed to contribute anything significant as Australia slid to 67-4 at the end of 18 overs, behind on the run rate as well.
Clarke found an able partner in T20 skipper George Bailey, and the duo added 54 runs for the 5th wicket, but the runs came rather slowly, putting the Aussies under serious pressure in the chase.
Clarke fell leg before to Hafeez for 66 leaving George Bailey and rookie Glenn Maxwell with the job of seeing their side home. The duo did well under the circumstances taking Australia to 151-5 at the end of the 41st over, leaving the side 48 to win from the last 9 overs at a challenging 5.5 runs per over.
The 45th over of the innings bowled by Sohail Tanveer proved to be decisive with Australia picking up 14 runs from it to bring the equation crashing down to 20 from 30 balls.
Glenn Maxwell led the Aussie charge, spanking 38 runs off as many deliveries, but was undone by Saeed Ajmal in the 46th over, adjudged leg before while attempting an unnecessary reverse sweep. George Bailey though showed terrific temperament to see Australia across the finish line with 10 balls to spare, ending unbeaten on 57.
The two teams will renew hostilities on Friday afternoon in the 2nd ODI.
Pakistan: Mohammad Hafeez, Nasir Jamshed, Azhar Ali, Asad Shafiq, Misbah-ul-Haq (c), Umar Akmal, Kamran Akmal (wk), Shahid Afridi, Sohail Tanvir, Saeed Ajmal, Aizaz Cheema.
Australia: David Warner, Matthew Wade (wk), Michael Clarke (c), Michael Hussey, David Hussey, George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell, Dan Christian, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson.
Pakistan 198 all out (45.1 overs, 4.38 rpo)
Asad Shafiq 56 (77) M Starc 5-42
Umar Akmal 52 (56) J Pattinson 3-19
Australia 199/6 (48.2 overs, 4.11rpo)
M Clarke 66 (96) S Ajmal 2-16
G Bailey 57* (88) M Hafeez 2-29
File Photograph Copyright: Barry Zee
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