ABU DHABI: Skipper Aaron Finch fell 10 short of a record third consecutive hundred but still took Australia to 266-6 in the third One-day International against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The right-handed opener scored 90 off 136 balls with five boundaries and a six to anchor Australia — who won the toss and opted to bat — after light rain delayed the start by 15 minutes at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Finch, who scored 116 and 153 not out in Australia’s eight wicket wins in the first two matches in Sharjah — could have been the first Australian to score three hundreds in as many ODIs.
Sri Lankan legend Kumar Sangakkara holds the record of most successive hundreds with four, all during the 2015 World Cup, while nine other batsmen — none of them from Australia — including Pakistan’s Zaheer Abbas, Saeed Anwar and Babar Azam have struck three consecutive hundreds in ODI cricket.
Glenn Maxwell contributed 71 from 55 deliveries with the eight of eight boundaries and a six to his side much needed impetus in the closing overs.
Finch holed out to leg-spinner Yasir Shah in the 42nd over but he had once again built the innings.
Australia started shakily and lost opener Usman Khawaja off just the fifth ball, bowled for nought by the recalled Usman Khan Shinwari.
Usman’s fellow left-arm quick bowler Junaid Khan dismissed Shaun Marsh for 14 to leave Australia struggling at 20-2 but Finch added 84 for the third wicket with Peter Handscomb, who hit a 43-ball 47 with six boundaries, to help his team recover.
Finch added another 36 with Marcus Stoinis (10) and 48 for the fifth wicket with Maxwell.
Maxwell and Alex Carey (25 not out) put on quick 61 for the sixth wicket as Australia smashed 90 in the last 10 overs.
Australia, who lead the five-match series 2-0, brought in fast bowlers Pat Cummins and Jason Behrendorff to replace the injured Jhye Richardson and Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Pakistan included Usman and Junaid in place of Faheem Ashraf, who has been rested for the remainder of the series, and Mohammad Abbas.
U.T. Khawaja b Usman 0
A.J. Finch c Haris b Yasir 90
S.E. Marsh c Shan b Junaid 14
P.S.P. Handscomb b Haris 47
M.P. Stoinis b Imad 10
G.J. Maxwell run out 71
A.T. Carey not out 25
P.J. Cummins not out 2
EXTRAS (LB-5, W-2) 7
TOTAL (for six wkts, 50 overs) 266
FALL OF WKTS: 1-0, 2-20, 3-104, 4-140, 5-188, 6-249.
DID NOT BAT: N.M. Lyon, A. Zampa, J.P. Behrendorff.
BOWLING: Usman Khan Shinwari 9-2-37-1; Mohammad Hasnain 5-0-50-0 (1w); Junaid Khan 9-0-58-1; Yasir Shah 10-0-47-1; Imad Wasim 10-0-34-1 (1w); Haris Sohail 7-0-35-1.
PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Shan Masood, Haris Sohail, Umar Akmal, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Rizwan, Junaid Khan, Yasir Shah, Mohammad Hasnain, Usman Khan Shinwari.
UMPIRES: Asif Yaqoob (Pakistan) and M.A. Gough (England).
TV UMPIRE: H.D.P.K. Dharmasena (Sri Lanka).
MATCH REFEREE: J.J. Crowe (New Zealand).