Debutant Peter Handscomb was gifted two lucky breaks and Steve Smith cracked a fighting century to help power Australia to a seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in Thursday’s one-day clash at the WACA Ground.
Chasing 264 for victory, Australia reached 3-265 with five overs to spare, with Smith (108no off 104 balls) and Handscomb (82 off 84) combining for a match-winning 183-run partnership.
The triumph gave Australia a 2-1 lead in the five-match series ahead of Sunday’s clash at the SCG.
But Thursday’s result could have been vastly different if it wasn’t for an untimely Junaid Khan no-ball in the 11th over.
Handscomb thought he was out for a duck when he was caught at slip with Australia struggling at 2-46.
As Handscomb trudged off the field, replays showed Junaid’s delivery was a front-foot no-ball.
Handscomb was unaware of the no-ball until reserve umpire Paul Wilson charged down the tunnel to tell the batsmen to turn back.
If Handscomb had gone another 10m to walk off the field, he wouldn’t have been able to return.
Handscomb’s luck didn’t stop there.
He was given another life on 10 when he was dropped at point.
Handscomb made the most of the double reprieve to guide Australia out of their early trouble.
Smith led the way with his eighth ODI century, while Handscomb proved to be a handy ally in front of 15,383 fans.
Earlier, Australian wicketkeeper Matthew Wade missed the easiest of stumpings as Pakistan posted 7-263 after losing the toss.
Babar Azam scored 84 off 100 balls to equal the record as the fastest batsman to reach 1000 ODI runs, achieving the feat in just 21 innings.
Sharjeel Khan (50 off 47), Umar Akmal (39) and Shoaib Malik (39) chipped in with handy scores to lift Pakistan to a competitive total.
Paceman Josh Hazlewood led the bowling superbly in the absence of rested star Mitchell Starc, returning 3-32 from 10 overs.
Part-time spinner Travis Head collected 2-65 in a mixed outing, while paceman Billy Stanlake (1-55 off 10 overs) overcame some early nerves to put in a solid display.
Stanlake conceded 20 runs off his second over after Sharjeel cracked him for four consecutive boundaries.
The 22-year-old speedster had figures of 0-27 by that stage.
But he conceded just 28 runs from his next eight overs, snaring the wicket of Shoaib in the process.
Wade was left red faced when he missed the chance to stump Umar on one.
Umar was caught in no-man’s land after charging several paces down the pitch and missing an attempted slog of spinner Head.
But Wade failed to glove the ball, allowing Umar to scamper back into his crease.
He added another 38 runs before falling to Hazlewood.
Wade’s superior batting has allowed him to overtake fellow wicketkeeper Peter Nevill in the Test pecking order.
But Wade’s latest mistake with the gloves could send some concerns into the Australian camp ahead of the four-Test tour of India, where the dustbowl pitches will prove to be an even bigger challenge for wicketkeeping.