Matthew Wade’s run-a-ball 100 propelled Australia to a 92-run win over Pakistan in the limited-overs series opener on Friday, when the heat and high humidity took a toll on players from both teams. Wade went in with Australia in trouble at 78-5 and combined with Glenn Maxwell (60) in an innings-building sixth-wicket stand of 82 to set Australia on course for a total of 268-9. He reached his maiden ODI century off the last ball of the innings.
Allrounder James Faulkner took 4-32, snaring two early wickets to restrict the Pakistan top order and returning to dismiss Azhar Ali (24) and Mohammad Amir (8). Pacemen Pat Cummins (3-33) and Mitchell Starc (2-34) chimed in with valuable wickets to bowl the tourists out for 176 in 42.3 overs. Babar Azam’s 33 from 46 balls was Pakistan’s highest score.
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”It was very hot,” Faulkner said. The win ”was set up by Wadey – (he) saved the day. The bowlers were there to back up his great innings.” Billy Stanlake only bowled three overs on debut for Australia before he had to leave the field for treatment for what appeared to be heat-related illness. Azhar, Pakistan’s stand-in captain and opener, retired hurt on 12 after injuring his right hamstring. He returned to the crease with the total at 133-6 and added another dozen runs before he was caught in the outfield off Faulkner’s bowling.
Australia swept Pakistan 3-0 in the just-completed Test series, and was coming off a 3-0 sweep in its previous ODI series against New Zealand – a rematch between the 2015 World Cup finalists. Australia skipper Steve Smith won the toss and batted at the Gabba, but Pakistan got on top early when Mohammad Amir (2-54) bowled David Warner (7) and had Smith caught behind for a golden duck, leaving Chris Lynn to face a hat-trick ball on debut.
Lynn, who belted 309 runs in five games for the local Brisbane Heat team in the Twenty20 Big Bash League, scored 16 from 12 balls – including a towering six – before he was caught behind off Hasan Ali (3-65). Opener Travis Head was next out, scoring 39 from as many balls before he was caught behind and Australia slipped to 67-4 in the 13th over. Mitch Marsh’s (4) departure with the addition of 10 to the total brought Wade to the crease to join Maxwell.
Maxwell was making his return to the Australia lineup after he was dropped and fined last month for saying it was ”painful” having to bat below Wade in Victoria state’s Sheffield Shield lineup. There didn’t appear to be any residual animosity between the pair on Friday, although Maxwell went in ahead of Wade.
The second match will be played Sunday at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, with some uncertainty over the availability of Azhar. ”It’s a bit sore. When I was running, it was quite tough,” Azhar said. ”Hopefully it will recover soon. The physio will have a better assessment tomorrow.”