SHARJAH: Michael Hussey and Glenn Maxwell hit fighting half-centuries to help Australia beat Pakistan by three wickets in the third and final one-day international, taking the three-match series 2-1 here on Monday.
Hussey scored 65 for his 39th fifty and Maxwell hit a 38-ball 56 not out to round off a challenging chase of a target of 245 in 47 overs spoiling Pakistan’s chances of beating Australia for the first time since 2002.
Opener Mohammad Hafeez topscored with 78 in Pakistan’s fighting total of 244-7 after they were put into bat.
Hussey added an invaluable 51 for the fifth wicket with Matthew Wade (22) after Pakistani spinner Saeed Ajmal (3-37) had threatened to wreck their rival’s batting as Australia were struggling at 108-4.
Australia won the first match by four wickets here last week before Pakistan levelled the series with a seven wicket win in the second match in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
But the 37-year-old Hussey, regarded as one of the best finishers in limited overs cricket, kept his cool during a 72-ball knock. He hit seven fours and a six.
Even when Wade was bowled by Abdur Rehman, Hussey fought hard, adding 67 with Maxwell. When Hussey was bowled by Khan, Australia still needed 19 but Maxwell ensured the chase was successful, hitting four fours and three sixes.
Australia got off to a rapid start with David Hussey putting on 44 by the ninth over with David Warner (21), both taking the attack to the Pakistanis from the outset. David Hussey hit three sixes during his 45-ball knock of 43.
But once Ajmal came on the Australian innings faltered as the off-spinner dismissed David (Hussey), Michael Clarke (32) and George Bailey in his first five-over spell but Hussey then foiled Ajmal in his second spell.
Pakistan were also sloppy in the field as they dropped four catches and their wicket-keeper Kamran Akmal spurned one stumping.
Earlier Hafeez’s 97-ball knock – his first fifty against Australia in eight matches – helped Pakistan post a challenging total.
Hafeez put on 129 for the opening wicket with Nasir Jamshed (48) and it looked as if Pakistan would post a big total but they were once again derailed by some sustained pace bowling by Mitchell Starc who finished with 4-51.
Jamshed, who hit 97 at Abu Dhabi, was again at his fluent best as he hit six boundaries during his 75-ball knock.
Once Hafeez fell, trapped leg-before by Clarke in the 33rd over Pakistan were hard pressed for runs. Hafeez hit four boundaries and two sixes.
Starc, who took a career best 5-42 in the first match, then came into his own. The lanky left-arm paceman had Asad Shafiq (27) and Umar Akmal (nought) in the same over before ending skipper Misbah-ul Haq’s short 25 runs innings in the 47th over.
Azhar Ali made 27 not out to give fillip to Pakistan’s total.
Surprisingly, Australia – considered weak against spin on the Asian pitches – have lost only one bilateral limited overs series in the sub-continent and Middle East in 20 years. They lost to India in a three-match series in 2010.
Pakistan and Australia now play three Twenty20 internationals – all in Dubai – on September 5, 7 and 10.