Australia defeated Pakistan by 20 runs in Dubai to grab an eighth consecutive ODI win, their first 5-0 series victory overseas since 2008, and no shortage of World Cup momentum.
Another freewheeling Glenn Maxwell masterclass and formidable opening stand between Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja powered Australia to 327-7 in Sunday’s series finale.
Maxwell made a mockery of an under-strength Pakistan attack desperately low on confidence, scoring 70 from 33 deliveries, while a dehydrated Khawaja top-scored with 98.
Much like the previous dead rubber at the same venue, Pakistan’s chase was promising but they ultimately finished at 307-7. Haris Sohail’s 130 guided his team to a point where they required 89 from the final 10 overs.
Nathan Lyon snapped a 102-run stand between Sohail and Umar Akmal with a well-flighted delivery, while Kane Richardson claimed the all-important scalp of Sohail in the 41st over.
Australia’s World Cup defence was a jittery and jumbled mess at the start of the year, in terms of selection and on-field performances, but they’ve turned the corner over the past five weeks.
Finch’s team stunned India last month, becoming the first Australian outfit to fight back from 0-2 and win a five-match bilateral ODI series.
Finch led the way as the tourists ruthlessly crushed Pakistan in the UAE, topping the run-scoring charts with 451 to set a new record for most runs by an Australian in a five-match ODI series.
Finch and Khawaja, batting at the same time David Warner bludgeoned a century in India, gave Australia an ideal platform with a 134-run opening partnership.
Khawaja, called into the squad at the start of 2019 after two years in 50-over exile, is now the world’s leading ODI run-scorer for the year with 769 runs at 59.15. Finch, who scored 53 on Sunday, is second on that list with 634 at 52.83.
Khawaja was unwell late in his knock, calling for assistance in the 33rd over before chipping a catch to Yasir Shah in the 40th over.
Shaun Marsh (61) kept the scoreboard ticking over and Maxwell made run-scoring look outrageously easy, with 58 of his runs coming from boundaries.
Maxwell, whom coach Justin Langer suggested has the potential to “be Virat Kohli” after match-winning innings of 71 and 98 earlier in the series, manipulated the field through a mix of exquisite timing, power hitting and unorthodox strokes.
The allrounder’s explosive innings ended when he attempted a ramp shot in the 49th over, only for Junaid Khan to make a mess of the stumps.