Babar Azam brought Pakistan to a remarkable victory


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Imam-ul-century Haq's and Babar Azam's century propelled Pakistan to a surprise victory in Lahore, when they chased down the needed 349 in 49 overs, setting a new record. Pakistan set the tone for an excellently-paced chase with partnerships of 118 and 111 for the first two wickets. Pakistan won by six wickets to tie the series at 1-1, despite Ben McDermott's maiden ODI century. Pakistan won for the first time against Australia since 2017. It was also their most successful run chase in one-day internationals.

Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq got off to a great start as runs flowed freely on a flat track, similar to the previous innings. When McDermott failed to take a difficult chance at midwicket, Imam was given a life. The attack was maintained by Zaman and Imam, with the former reaching his fifty with a six. Marcus Stoinis, on the other hand, came back to break the tie after Zaman failed to select the slower ball and was knocked out for 67. With a new growing stand that surged from strength to strength, Pakistan sailed above 200. Imam struck a hundred off 90 balls and Babar reached fifty before the former was caught in the deep by Labuschagne.

It was a pursuit of partnerships for Pakistan, as Mohammad Rizwan and Babar put on another 80-run stand off only 61 balls. Australia deployed up to seven bowlers, but none of them were able to produce the incisions required to keep Pakistan's scoring rate down.

Once Pakistan passed 300, Australia struck back with the wickets of Babar and Mohammad Rizwan, but with 27 needed from the final three overs, Pakistan completed the chase with six balls to spare thanks to some powerful knocks from Khushdil Shah. After a 35-run combination with Iftikhar Ahmed off just 19 balls, Khushdil finished undefeated on 27 off 17. Pakistan took control of the middle overs with Babar's 114 off 83 balls, which included 11 fours and a six.

Earlier in the day, Australia had put on a great batting display. As they played their shots and stitched stands to pile on the runs, McDermott's century and perfectly timed outbursts from other batters propelled them to a good total. Pakistan got off to the best possible start when Aaron Finch was caught leg-before by Shaheen Afridi with an inswinger on the first delivery of the encounter.

Between overs 20 and 25, Pakistan took a step back, with Head falling just short of another well-deserved century for 89, top-edging a slog-sweep. Pakistan would have hoped to make a comeback with that wicket, but McDermott kept going with Marnus Labuschagne, seemingly unfazed. Iftikhar Ahmed proceeded to bowl into McDermott's arc on a flat pitch and was penalised, being dismissed for 38 runs in four overs.

With the pitch not being the easiest to bowl on, Wasim Jr. and Haris Rauf were impressive, limiting the scoring pace to around six per over. Zahid Mehmood's lengths were variable, and he bowled too many loose deliveries, allowing Labuschagne and McDermott to add 74 runs in 63 balls. After scoring 55 in the first ODI, McDermott completed his maiden ODI century with a powerful six over long-on. After a knock that included 10 fours and four sixes, he was dismissed for 104 off 108 in two overs, taking out midwicket for 104 off 108.

Before Pakistan retaliated with quick wickets, Labuschagne scored a rapid fifty of his own. While Labuschagne was dismissed for 59 off 49 balls, Alex Carey and Cameron Green were dismissed in the next five overs, making a 350 total seem a little improbable. Marcus Stoinis (49 off 33) and Sean Abbott (28 off 16), who scored 25 off over 48 and 49, respectively, helped Australia finish on a high note. Before Shaheen Afridi dismissed both in the final over to finish with 4-63, the pair scored 42 off 23 for the seventh wicket.

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