DUBAI-If the first and second ODIs followed a similar pattern, the third and fourth aren’t worlds removed either. Australia batted first, one of the openers got going, Glenn Maxwell was put down early in his innings and made Pakistan pay for it.

All of that combined to take Australia, thanks to a surge in the final ten overs, to 277, 11 more than the score that proved more than enough in the third ODI in Abu Dhabi. Maxwell was the top scorer, finishing two runs short of a well-deserved second ODI career century, while Alex Carey scored a maiden ODI fifty, the pair combining for a hefty 134-run partnership. Meanwhile, Usman Khawaja’s sensational form continued, his 62 taking him to the top of the leader board among ODI runscorers in 2019.

But so far, this also shapes up as Pakistan’s best game of the series. Unlike the pitch in Dubai, this is an absolute road, so what Australia have set Pakistan is nowhere near unattainable. Pakistan controlled the middle overs, with Yasir Shah having his best game by far in the series. There was even a collector’s item - a Yasir googly which actually spun - which undid Marcus Stoinis off just his third ball of the innings. Soon after, he would bring about Khawaja’s end as the left-hander looked to sweep once too often and found himself bang in line of middle stump, giving the umpire an easy decision.

Mohammad Hasnain brought up his first ODI wicket too. It was the big fish in Aaron Finch after the opening partnership had accumulated 56 hard-fought runs, but to say the teenager bowled well would stretch the truth to breaking point. Hasnain was once more all over the place with his lines and lengths, his inexperience showing when the batsmen attempted to attack him. He has both pace and variety, but at the moment not quite the sharpness to know when to use which, and as a result ended up being Pakistan’s most expensive bowler. Maxwell and Carey took a particular liking to him in the final stages as Hasnain ended up conceding 47 in the eight overs he bowled.

It was that partnership that has dealt the severest blow to Pakistan opening their account this series. When Khawaja had been dismissed, Australia had lost half their side in 28 overs with the score standing at just 140. Imad Wasim may have been hoping to clean up the visitors for under 200 at that point, with Pakistan perhaps one more wicket away from converting that ambition to reality. The chance presented itself early on with Maxwell on just 10, one ball after he had deposited Yasir over long on for six. It wasn’t the sharpest chance, in truth, with the ball taking just a slight deviation from the outside edge of the bat as the batsman shaped to cut. They are the chances Rizwan, or indeed any international keeper, can ill-afford to miss, back-up or first-choice.

It wasn’t the end of the generosity, however. With the partnership standing at 101, Usman Shinwari cleaned up Maxwell’s middle stump, thanks to a furious extra burst of pace. But instead of seeing the batsman walk back to the pavilion, the big screen showed Shinwari overstepping, the resulting free-hit deposited for four through cow corner. It was the extra life Maxwell needed to inflict further damage as he continued to attack without regard for a personal milestone, selflessly run out on 98 with just four balls to spare.

The brutal hitting towards the end that likely gives Australia the edge at the half-way mark wasn’t the only hallmark of the partnership, though. Carey and Maxwell may well be known for their more attacking side, but when they came in, the pair had a serious rebuilding job ahead of them. This was accomplished by the old clichés of taking regular singles and being patient as they waited to put the bad ball away, with the 12 overs that followed Khawaja’s wicket seeing just 51 runs scored. More importantly, though, there was no movement in the wickets column.

It allowed Australia to get to the stage where the movement in the runs column was far more hurried, with any movement in the series scoreline for Pakistan receding ever-further into the distance.