Pakistan’s batsmen have suffered through stifling heat and humidity to put the pressure on Australia to chase 245 to win the third and deciding one-day international in Sharjah.
Paceman Mitchell Starc was again the star for Australia on Monday night with 4-51 from his 10 overs, giving the left-armer nine wickets for the series despite failing to make a breakthrough in game two in Abu Dhabi last weekend.
Pakistan finished on 7-244 after being invited to bat by Australia captain Michael Clarke who was keen to avoid his side having to bowl second in the late-night dew which has made gripping the ball difficult.
Even so, Australia still managed to bowl 13 wides after conceding 20 in game two bowling second.
Starc’s fellow left-armer Mitchell Johnson (2-33 off nine) was also a fine performer, although given the slow outfield the target will be a difficult assignment.
Mohammad Hafeez (78) and Nasir Jamshed (48) shared a partnership of 129, which was 12 runs shy of the highest opening stand by Pakistan in an ODI against Australia. Mudassar Nazar and Mohsin Khan put on 141 at the MCG in February 1985.
Jamshed was caught behind from an attempted pull shot off the bowling of Johnson in the 27th over.
Johnson struck again in his next over as Pakistan’s decision to promote Shahid Afridi to No.3 backfired when the allrounder was caught at deep square leg for seven.
Pakistan had lost 3-26 after a weary Hafeez was lbw to spinner Clarke at 3-155.
Asad Shafiq (27) and gifted strokeplayer Umar Akmal (duck) fell in the 39th over as Starc made two key breakthroughs.
Starc’s dream run at Sharjah continued in the 47th over when Misbah-ul-Haq (25) holed out to long-off and Kamran Akmal (two) was bowled three balls later.
Azhar Ali was unbeaten on 27.