Pakistan batsmen combined effort in the mammoth chase was overshadowed by Aaron Finch and Mitchell Starc's brilliance of utilising Decision Review System (DRS) at the penultimate moment of the game. Needing 44 runs off 36 balls with two set batsmen (Wahab Riaz and Sarfaraz Ahmed) still at the crease, it looked Pakistan can do the unexpected but Mitchell Starc - as he did against Windies closed it off for Australia with some sensational display of his match-winning abilities to snatch crucial moments in the game. With this, Australia upstaged Pakistan by a 41-run margin at The Cooper Associates County Ground, Taunton.
Earlier in the game, Pakistan displayed a different brand of cricket. Several catches were dropped and the bowling lacked discipline which allowed mighty Australians to dominate the innings with David Warner registering his first ton in two years and Aaron Finch playing a captain's knock of 82 to set the platform. But Pakistan did well towards the end overs, riding on Mohammad Amir's five-wicket haul for damage control as they limited Australia to 307.
The Amir-Shaheen Afridi opening combination, after Pakistan opted to bowl on an overcast day in Taunton, started on a promising note as both left-arm pacers went past the outside edge a few times and had the batsmen on their toes. The difference, however, was that Amir was consistent with his line and lengths and sneaked in a couple of maidens whereas Afridi wasn't and he paid for his errors by being pulled several times to the boundary. Despite Amir's tidy bowling, Afridi conceding 24 runs in two overs coupled with the openers also taking a liking to Hassan Ali meant that Australia managed to get off to a solid start.
To make matters worse, when Wahab Riaz managed to find the outside edge of Finch, Asif Ali at first slip goofed up to give the Australia captain a reprieve. Plenty of salt was rubbed on to Pakistan's wound from thereon. Afridi continued to leak boundaries while disappointment continued for Riaz as a review turned out to be umpire's call in favour of Finch.
Put down when he was on 26 and later on 44, Finch made Pakistan pay for their misses as he dealt in sixes off Hafeez, who conceded 32 off three overs before being removed from the attack. But Hafeez took his revenge, albeit as a fielder when Finch miscued one off Amir. At the other end, Warner continued to play with responsibility and stuck at the wicket. Troubled a few times by the seamers and not receiving as much strike as his opening partner, the southpaw registered a 51-ball half-century for his third fifty-plus score in four matches. Having watched a shocking review from Pakistan and seeing the ball goes past him several times when Amir was in the middle of a lively spell, Warner didn't let the situation get the better of him as he took toll of the bowlers from the other end, with Hassan and Shoaib Malik feeling the brunt of his blade.
Once Steve Smith was dismissed by Mohammad Hafeez, Australia adapted the horses for courses policy, similar to what India did against them when they promoted Hardik Pandya up the order, by sending Glenn Maxwell at No. 4. But the move didn't yield optimum result as the batsman lasted for only 10 deliveries in which he managed two fours and a six off Hafeez before being cleaned up by Afridi.
A fortuitous edge that went between 'keeper and first slip, helping Warner to his 15th ODI ton, and a simple catch being put down by Asif Ali off Riaz again, summed up the contrasting day for the batsman and bowler in question. But Pakistan being Pakistan, they came up with a renewed effort in the death by picking up quick wickets, with Amir doing the bulk of the damage, while there was also some light at the end of a luckless tunnel for Riaz. Going strong at 223 for 2 at one stage, Amir's five-wicket haul scripted Pakistan's fine comeback with the ball as Australia lost eight wickets for the addition of only 84 runs.
In response, Fakhar Zaman and Imam Ul Haq started the proceedings for Pakistan. Chasing a mammoth total, the last thing men-in-green wanted was an early wicket. However, that’s exactly what happened as the former departed in third over of the chase without troubling the scorers. Pat Cummins, who has been in prolific touch provided the breakthrough.
His departure led Babar Azam to the crease, and he along with opener Imam-Ul-Haq started to play on the rise and with maturity. With a few delightful shots around the ground, the duo registered a partnership of 54 runs before Babar threw his wicket away. Suddenly, Pakistan was two down for mere 56 runs on the board.
Mohammad Hafeez and set batsman Imam took Pakistan’s innings back on track and strung a partnership of 80 runs. In the process, Imam registered his sixth ODI fifty. Post this, the wickets tumbled like a pack of cards and scorecard looked six down for 160 runs. However, Pakistan continued to fight and added another 106 runs to give Australia some hiccups. But on the given day, Australia emerged a better side which eventually helped them to register their third win in the tournament.