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Australia drop the ball against Pakistan

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Australia allrounder Mitch Marsh has been ruled out of the remainder of the ODI series against Pakistan with a shoulder injury.

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The West Australian, who has had recurring issues with his right shoulder, pulled up sore after bowling during Sunday’s second ODI at the MCG, which Australia lost by six wickets.

Australian captain Steve Smith is hopeful Marsh will recover in time to play in the Test side during next month’s tour of India.

“We’re giving him some time off to get that right because he could be a very key player for us in India,” Smith said.

“He hasn’t been able to bowl the speeds that he would like and we know how important air speed is in India, particularly with the ball reversing, so we need him to get that right.”

Interim chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Marsh had been picked for the India tour primarily for his bowling.

Marsh took 0-32 from six overs against Pakistan in the Melbourne ODI and was dismissed by Mohammad Amir for a golden duck after a surprise decision by Smith to promote him to No.4 in the batting order.

“I gave him an opportunity today. I think he has the capability to be able to bat probably from four down the order,” Smith said.

“Today obviously didn’t come off. He got out first ball. But I see him as an exciting prospect going forward in one-day cricket. I think he’s come a long way in the last year or so.”

Former Test captain Mark Taylor had earlier questioned the decision to promote the often-maligned Marsh in the batting order.

“He is more just a hitter, a straight hitter,” Taylor said from the Nine Network commentary box.

“He’s not a technically sound batsman to bat at the top of the order.

“I think Australia’s idea to bat him at No.4 is flawed at the moment until that technique improves.”

Pakistan showed some much-needed resilience to skittle Australia for 220 before reaching their target with 14 balls to spare at the MCG.

The series-levelling win is Pakistan’s first against Australia in Australia in any format since 2005 – having lost 16 matches in a row – and will inspire hope of a more competitive showing for the remainder of the summer after their Test whitewash.

It was also Pakistan’s first ODI win against Australia at the MCG since 1985 after copping nine straight defeats at the ground.

Stand-in captain Mohammad Hafeez led the way with a polished 72 but would have been out off the fourth ball of the innings if not for Steve Smith dropping a sitter in the slips.

Hafeez, who filled in admirably for injured captain Azhar Ali (hamstring) and vice-captain Sarfraz Ahmed (family illness), was handed another lifeline on 55 when Pat Cummins dropped a difficult chance at a deepish cover.

He and Babar Azam had Pakistan humming at 1-140 but yet another batting collapse looked a distinct possibility when both departed in successive overs.

Shoaib Malik was given out caught behind off Pat Cummins but the dismissal was overturned on review.

Malik went on to make an unbeaten 42 off 52 balls.

James Faulkner was the pick of the Australian bowlers with 2-35 while Mitchell Starc took 2-45.

Smith made the curious decision to rely almost exclusively on his pacemen, with part-time spinner Travis Head only given a second over late in the match and Glenn Maxwell not used at all.

The Australian skipper earlier won the toss and elected to bat but was soon left to regret his decision, with David Warner and the recalled Usman Khawaja both falling cheaply to left-arm quick Junaid Khan.

Smith, who made a patient 60 from 101 balls, was the only Australian batsman to make a half-century.

He looked set to carry his bat before his bizarre dismissal, dragging an Imad Wasim delivery onto his foot and then the stumps.

Test squad inclusions Wade (35) and Glenn Maxwell (23) could not back up their strong performances in Brisbane, both throwing their wickets away after promising starts.

Imad was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan, taking 2-37, while Amir cleaned up the tail to finish with 3-47.

Smith said his batsmen, with the exception of Wade in Brisbane, had been “pretty ordinary” in the first two ODIs.

“It’s something we need to look at,” he said.

“We need to build a few more partnerships, not lose so many wickets in clumps and be able to give ourselves a chance to have a crack in our last 10 to 15 overs.

“We haven’t done that in the last two games and it’s probably let us down.”

Hafeez was delighted with Pakistan finally breaking their drought of wins in Australia.

“It’s a special, special blessing,” he said.

“Our bowlers really did the job for us earlier. That was really important to restrict Australia … we kept the pressure and that worked really well for us in this innings.”

-AAP

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