A sensational 259-run opening stand of centurions David Warner and Mitchell Marsh helped Australia finish at a massive 367/9 against Pakistan in the most crucial encounter for both teams at Chinnaswamy Stadium here on Friday.
The duo scored runs freely on a pitch that did not have much for the Pakistani bowlers on offer, though Warner had an early scare when he was dropped by Usama Mir, and made them pay for it.
Pakistan, led by their prime pacer Shaheen Afridi, fought back towards the end as he recorded his first five-wicket haul to emerge as top bowler for his side.
As it got older, the new Australian batsmen laboured hard to get their rhythm as the ball was holding into the wicket. The reinvigorated Shaheen picked up wickets on a regular basis, and at one point he was on a hat-trick.
Haris Rauf also came back strongly in death overs after getting thrashed for 56 runs in his first 4 overs. These little efforts stifled Australia who lost 6 wickets for 70 runs in the final 10 overs.
Australian openers took advantage of Pakistan errors on the field as Shaheed lost a review for Pakistan when the straight umpire as well turned down his shout for leg before against David Warner off the very first ball.
Warner got yet another life in the fifth over when Usama dropped a dolly on the on-side when the Aussie opener was batting on 10. In the meanwhile, both the batsmen managed to take off on a good batting track.
Marsh was merciless in Rauf’s first over as he pounded a hat-trick of boundaries, and Warner smacked a spectacular crouched six, plundering 24 runs.
The introduction of spinners also did not change their approach as Warner and Marsh, milking runs through the gaps and severely dealing loose balls on offer outside the ground.
Warner reached his fifty in the 13th over, whereas Marsh achieved that milestone in the 15th over. At the mid-innings stage, all six Pakistan bowlers had been hit for a boundary by the duo.
The Australia duo seemed unstoppable after the 25-over mark. They added 87 runs off the next 52 balls.
It was Shaheen who finally brought a breakthrough for Pakistan, getting Marsh (121) caught at short fine leg. One brought two, as Maxwell tried to loft the pacer off the very next ball, but could only reach Babar at mid-on.
Warner threatened to surpass his own highest ODI score as he continued to rack up the runs, but was finally undone by one of his big shots, holing out off Haris Rauf for a majestic 163 (124 balls).
Pakistan’s comeback trail continued with Josh Inglish managing almost run-a-ball 13 runs in the final dozen overs. Marcus Stoinis (21), Inglis (13), Marnus Labuschagne (8), Mitchell Starc (2) and Josh Hazlewood (0) all departed, as Pakistan’s pace duo ripped through the tail.
Shaheen twice took two in two balls across the course of the innings, finishing with 5/54 from his ten overs, while Rauf bounced back well from his disastrous first over to finish with figures of 3/83.
And while Australia’s total of 367/9 is a challenging one for any team to chase down, Pat Cummins’ side will wonder if perhaps that final number could and should have been bigger given the brilliance of the opening stand.
Brief scores: Australia 367/9 in 50 overs (David Warner 163, Mitchell Marsh 121; Shaheen Afridi 5/54) vs Pakistan