Captain Aaron Finch snapped out of his form funk to ensure a depleted Australian side featuring three debutants ended their historic tour of Pakistan on a high with a three-wicket victory in the one-off T20 International in Lahore.
The dominant form of his counterpart Babar Adam (66 off 46) continued as Pakistan reached a competitive 8-162, but the hosts were stopped from going bigger by paceman Nathan Ellis (4-28) who struck consistently through the final overs of their innings .
Finch (55 off 44) then saw off an impressive spell from Usman Qadir, the former Perth Scorchers leg-spinner featuring in his first match against the country he once expressed a hope of playing for, to post his first half-century in 14 T20I innings.
The 35-year-old, fresh off two consecutive ducks coming into the match, was caught on the boundary attempting to win the game with a six to precipitate a jittery finish, but Ben McDermott (22 off 19 from an unfamiliar No.7 spot ) hit a boundary from the first ball of the final over to seal the win.
“I knew I could play a bit,” Finch told reporters postgame. “It’s just been the last few innings particularly against Pakistan that I didn’t really get through that initial period.
“I always had confidence, I always had faith. It’s one of those things that you go through some lean patches at times and everyone can seem to panic, and as people get older people panic a little bit quicker.
“But the support I’ve had from the players and the coaching staff has been fantastic.”
Australia handed maiden T20I caps to Cameron Green, Marnus Labuschagne and Ben Dwarshuis, while Josh Inglis (who recovered from COVID-19 after being sidelined from the preceding ODI campaign) took the gloves for the first time.
Inglis (24 off 25), along with Travis Head (26 off 14) and Marcus Stoinis (23 off nine), all played important cameos as Finch held anchor down the other end.
Finch could have made it a third match in a row without scoring after he charged Hasan Ali on his first ball and got a thick inside-edge that missed his stumps and ran away for a boundary.
Qadir, the son of the late spin great Abdul, was Pakistan’s biggest threat with the ball and made two key breakthroughs during Australia’s run chase.
But after dismissing Inglis and Labuschagne, the wrist-spinner lost his radar to allow Stoinis to blaze three boundaries from his first four balls to ease the pressure on the visitors, while he wasn’t helped by Khushdil Shah pulling out of a catch from Finch on the long-off boundary.
Inserted after the Aussie skipper won his first toss of the tour, Pakistan got off to a flyer thanks to Mohammad Rizwan (23 off 19) and Babar as the openers put on 56 inside the powerplay.
Green (2-16) put the brakes on with two wickets in as many balls, bowling Rizwan with an off-spinning slower ball before Fakhar Zaman bunted a simple catch to mid-on from his first ball.
But despite losing Babar while in full flow thanks to some clever bowling from Adam Zampa (1-29), Pakistan still managed 50 runs from their final five overs as their bowlers Hasan (10 off four) and Qadir (18 off six) continued to clear the rope.
Ellis bounced back after going for 14 from his first over, dismissing finishers Khushdil and Asif Ali before coming close to taking his second hat-trick of his three-game career.
The right-armer, who achieved the milestone on his T20I debut last year, struck on the first two balls of the penultimate over before unsuccessfully reviewing a caught-behind off Mohammad Wasim Jr the next delivery.
Finch, Stoinis and Zampa were the only three members of Australia’s T20 World Cup-winning XI to feature in the match with the others all injured or resting ahead of Indian Premier League stints.
Ashton Agar was not picked for the clash having recently recovered from COVID-19.
Qantas Tour of Pakistan 2022
First Test: Match drawn
Second test: Match drawn
Third Test: Australia win by 115 runs
Pakistan ODI and T20 squad: Babar Azam (c), Shadab Khan, Abdullah Shafique*, Asif Afridi, Asif Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Haider Ali, Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imam-ul-Haq*, Khushdil Shah, Mohammad Haris, Zahid Mahmood, Mohammad Rizwan, Mohammad Wasim, Saud Shakeel*, Shaheen Afridi, Shahnawaz Dahani, Usman Qadir (*ODIs only)
Australia ODI and T20 squad: Aaron Finch (c), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey, Ben Dwarshuis, Nathan Ellis, Cameron Green, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Mitchell Marsh, Ben McDermott, Marcus Stoinis, Mitchell Swepson, Adam Zampa
First ODI: Australia win by 88 runs
Second ODI: Pakistan win by six wickets
Third ODI: Pakistan win by nine wickets
Only T20I: Australia win by three wickets
All matches to be broadcast in Australia on Fox Cricket and Kayo Sports