CANBERRA - Australia took a 1-0 lead in the three-match T20 International series against Pakistan with a comfortable seven-wicket win in Canberra on Thursday.

Steve Smith’s unbeaten 80, his highest T20I score since August 2015, helped steer Australia’s chase of 151, a target they eventually achieved with nine balls to spare. At the other end was Ashton Turner (8*), who had walked in at the departure of Ben McDermott (21), with whom Smith shared a crucial stand worth 58 runs.

The chase started in blazing fashion, with David Warner carting Imad Wasim for four fours in the second over of the innings. However, his quick cameo was truncated by Mohammad Amir, who cleaned him up on 20, ending Warner’s unbeaten run across four T20I innings where he garnered 219 runs.  Smith’s first scoring shot was a six off Amir, a trademark whip that sailed over square leg, but Australia were pegged back soon after, when Aaron Finch sent a Mohammad Irfan delivery straight to mid-off, leaving the side at 48/2.

Steve Smith scores 80 runs

With more than a 100 still needed, Smith ensured that the runs kept flowing, even as McDermott played second-fiddle, scoring just one boundary in his 22-ball knock. When Imad Wasim snared McDermott leg-before, Australia still required 45 from seven overs, but Smith kept the momentum going with back-to-back fours off Amir and Wahab Riaz. He reached his 50 off 36 balls, and pillaged 29 runs off 15 deliveries, with Turner hitting the winning runs off the third ball of the 19th over.

Earlier, it was a late blitz by Iftikhar Ahmed, at No.6, that lifted Pakistan past 150. His 34-ball 62, laden with three sixes and five fours, helped Pakistan score 44 in the last four overs, recovering well after Babar Azam’s exit left them at 106/5.

It was Azam (50) who guided Pakistan in the first half of the innings, slamming his second consecutive fifty and the 12th in the format. Opening the innings, he kept one end busy even as he regularly lost partners on the other side, with Ashton Agar’s twin strikes reducing them to 62/3, and then 70/4.

Despite Iftikhar’s blitz, the total wasn’t nearly enough for Pakistan, handing Australia their sixth win in a row in T20Is, which equalled their unbeaten runs in 2010 and 2017-18. With the first game having been washed out, Pakistan will look to draw the series in Perth, where the third and final game will be played, on 8 November.

Player of the match Steve Smith said: “It was nice to be there at the end and get the boys home. I thought the bowlers set it up early. It was probably a 170 wicket I reckon at least. They bowled beautifully. Then it was just about timing the run and fortunately I was able to do that tonight.”

Pakistan captain Babar Azam said: “We are disappointed. Steve Smith took the match away. He played a magnificent innings. It’s very difficult when we lose early wickets. We have to gain the momentum again. Credit goes to Iftikhar the way he played. It’s a good knock.”

Australia captain Aaron Finch said: “I thought we were pretty good all day. The way we kept taking wickets throughout the innings was really important because we know how damaging Pakistan can be in the powerplay or at the end so to get wickets consistently I think was the key to the day. We’ve got guys like Steve, who does what he does better than anyone else in the world.”

Scorecard

PAKISTAN:

Babar Azam run out 50

Fakhar Zaman c Warner b Cummins 2

Haris Sohail c & b Richardson 6

Mohammad Rizwan st Carey b Agar 14

Asif Ali c Cummins b Agar 4

Iftikhar Ahmed not out 62

Imad Wasim run out 11

Wahab Riaz not out 0

EXTRAS: (lb1) 1

TOTAL: (6 wkts, 20 overs) 150

FOW: 1-22, 2-29, 3-62, 4-70, 5-106, 6-146.

BOWLING: Starc 4-0-25-0; Richardson 4-0-51-1; Cummins 4-0-19-1; Zampa 4-0-31-0; Agar 4-0-23-2.

AUSTRALIA:

David Warner b Amir 20

Aaron Finch c Babar b Mohammad 17

Steven Smith not out 80

Ben McDermott lbw b Imad 21

Ashton Turner not out 8

EXTRAS: (nb2, w3) 5

TOTAL: (3 wkts, 18.3 overs) 151

FOW: 1-30, 2-48, 3-106.

BOWLING: Irfan 4-0-27-1; Imad 4-0-34-1; Amir 3.3-0-32-1; Shadab 4-0-25-0; Wahab 3-0-33-0.

TOSS: Pakistan

UMPIRES: Gerard Abood, Shawn Craig

TV UMPIRE: Paul Wilson

MATCH REFEREE: Javagal Srinath