HARARE: Australia fast bowler Billy Stanlake rediscovered his aggressive streak to demolish Pakistan’s top order and set up a nine-wicket win for his side in the second match of the T20 tri-series in Zimbabwe.
“The boys have been talking to me in the last few days about being a little more aggressive, so that’s why I came out and tried to do that,” said Stanlake. The tactic brought almost immediate success, and he went on to record figures of four for 8 in his opening burst, the most economical spell by an Australian in T20I cricket, and second only to James Faulkner’s 5 for 27 the last time these two teams met.
His efforts were a complete turnaround from Australia’s last T20, against England, when Stanlake was carted for 47 in just three overs. “In the last game at Edgbaston I probably got away from that a little bit, JL [Australia coach Justin Langer] was getting in to me at training the other day about getting a bit more aggressive at our boys in the nets, and he kept reinforcing that so I really wanted to make an emphasis on that today.”
Stanlake’s wickets, backed up by three quick strikes from Andrew Tye at the death and one each for Jhye Richardson and Marcus Stoinis, kept Pakistan to 116 all out, a score which Australia chased down with ease, captain Aaron Finch registering an unbeaten 68 as they cantered home with more than nine overs to spare.
“There have been times where I have been (both fast and accurate), but it’s been a little inconsistent,” admitted Stanlake. “The challenge for me is being able to do that game after game. “England was a challenging tour for all of us, but the key message was doing the simple things well and sticking to our strengths. “And I probably got away from that at times during England, so that’s why I came back today just trying to be aggressive with the new ball and take wickets.”
Shoaib Malik, who became the first male cricketer to play 100 T20Is in this game, briefly rallied alongside Asif Ali before a horrible mix-up led to his run out for 13. It was left to Pakistan’s lower order to guide the team beyond 100. Hasan Ali hurried D’Arcy Short’s pull to provide Pakistan with an early wicket, but Finch ensured there were no further slip-ups for the Australians. He countered Pakistan’s spin threat with faultless attacking strokes, twice launching Mohammad Nawaz over long on and leathering legspinner Shadab Khan for three more sixes as the game ended in a flurry of runs.
Finch hit six sixes in all, and the game ended with a dropped catch at long on that went for four, summing up Pakistan’s day. “Credit goes to Finch, he played really well,” said Ali, who was the only bowler to break through for Pakistan. “The pitch was also really good in the second innings. “We’re a good team, we’re no. 1, and Inshallah we’ll bounce back in the next game.”