Ben McDermott's maiden century part of huge Australia total

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Ben McDermott's maiden century part of huge Australia total
© AFP/Getty Images Ben McDermott is all smiles after getting to a maiden ODI century © AFP/Getty Images

Australia 348 for 8 (McDermott 104, Head 89, Labuschagne 59, Afridi 4-63) vs Pakistan

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Ben McDermott replicated his BBL big-hitting exploits with a maiden international century to power Australia to a formidable 348 for 8 as they eye an ODI series victory over Pakistan in Lahore.

Having been granted a number of opportunities in the shorter formats, due to his BBL heroics in recent seasons, McDermott finally repaid the faith after a brilliant 104 off 108 balls on the back of 55 in game one.

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His spectacular knock had a shorthanded Australia, who went in unchanged with just 13 players to choose from, on the cusp of an unexpected triumph having won the series opener by 88 runs.

Much like his maiden ODI half-century on Tuesday, McDermott played himself in before mimicking his BBL destructiveness marked by a massive six off returning quick Shaheen Shah Afridi over deep backward square.

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Increasingly confident, he notched his half-century with a straight six off spinner Iftikhar Ahmed and then shortly after unleashed the reverse sweep to good effect. McDermott reached his century in style with a thumping six off left-arm spinner Khushdil Shah down the ground as he embraced Marnus Labuschagne with a bear hug and then took his helmet off in triumph.

It was made even more special with his dad Craig McDermott, the former Australia quick, having taken his first ODI five-wicket haul against Pakistan in Lahore in 1987.

McDermott’s superb innings ended tamely when he smashed a full toss to midwicket in the 35th over but the platform had been set and Marcus Stoinis proving the finishing touches with 49 off 33 balls.

Australia’s huge innings was setup by McDermott’s 162-run second-wicket partnership with Travis Head, who made 89 off 70 balls. After his spectacular 101 off 71 in game one, Head wasn’t quite as brutal from the get go but nonetheless continued on his merry way to make amends for a lacklustre Test series.

He was somewhat overshadowed by McDermott early before putting his foot on the gas by smashing Afridi with an audacious baseball style club for six over long on. Then he showed his deft touch a few balls later with a beautiful late cut to the boundary to thwart Afridi’s attempted slower ball.

Head appeared to be charging towards a second straight century before he skied an attempted sweep. Even though he fell short of a third ODI hundred, Head continued to make a compelling case for a permanent spot at the top of the order as he increased his average as opener to 48.79 from 14 innings, which is well above his overall mark of 37.5.

A forlorn Pakistan had little respite with Labuschagne, who has had modest success during the tour, in sparkling touch with 59 off 49 balls marked by a sweeping masterclass against Khushdil.

Pakistan could well rue once against bowling after it spectacularly backfired in the series opener. Captain Babar Azam boldly stuck to his guns but the flat surface and quick outfield made for ideal batting conditions.

He may have been swayed by the return of Afridi, who missed game one with a knee injury, and the left-armer made an immediate impact when he beat Head with a swinging delivery off the first delivery. Two balls later, he claimed struggling Aaron Finch lbw for a golden duck with an in-swinging full toss to heighten the pressure on the Australia captain.

Having laboured through the Australian summer with a knee injury, Finch’s position might be even more tenuous with the form of fringe players Head and McDermott.

But Pakistan then struggled and their spinners couldn’t turn the tide like they did in game one, as McDermott and Head whacked Iftikhar for 19 runs in the 20th over.

It forced Babar to return to Afridi mid-innings but he copped a hammering to Head before he had McDermott given out caught behind on 68 only to be overturned on review.

Shaheen claimed late wickets to limit the damage slightly, but it’s still going to take a mighty batting effort for Pakistan to end their 10-match ODI losing streak to Australia and keep the series alive.

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