Pakistan skittle Afghanistan for 59 to win first ODI

Pakistan’s Shaheen Afridi (2L) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Afghanistan’s Rahmat Shah (not pictured) during the first one-day international (ODI) match between Pakistan and Afghanistan at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Hambantota on August 22, 2023. — AFP

Pakistan on Tuesday skittled Afghanistan for 59 to win the first One-Day International (ODI) by 142 runs. 

With the victory, Men in Green have taken a 1-0 lead in the three-match ODI series being played in Sri Lanka. It is a home series for Afghanistan who cannot stage international cricket in their own country due to security concerns.

Haris Rauf claimed a five-wicket haul after Pakistan set a target of 202 runs for Afghanistan who were dismissed for only 59 runs in 19.2 overs.

Afghanistan were bowled out for their second-lowest score in ODIs.

This was the first five-wicket haul for Haris Rauf in Pakistan colours, who claimed 5-18 in 6.2 overs.

Shaheen claimed two wickets in two balls in his second over to set the tone for Pakistan during Afghanistan’s batting.

Naseem Shah and Shadab Khan bagged one wicket each.

Opener Rahmanullah Gurbaz was the top run-scorer for Afghanistan with 18 runs.

Earlier in the first innings, Imam-ul-Haq’s fighting knock and Shadab Khan’s late heroics helped Pakistan set a 202-run target for Afghanistan.

Afghanistan bowlers rattled Pakistan’s top order on a terrific spinning track. Fazalhaq Farooqi picked up Fakhar Zaman in his first over to immediately send Pakistan on the back foot.

Pakistani skipper Babar Azam, who is the number one ODI batter, fell to Mujeeb ur Rehman’s spinning delivery right in the next over.

Mohammad Rizwan and Imam settled at the crease for a brief period of time but they both could only add 33 runs together. Mujeeb was the man who also bagged Rizwan (21) on an LBW which looked a bit doubtful and has raised questions on social media.

Iftikhar Ahmed, who usually has the finisher’s role in the team, this time had a responsibility to anchor the score. He did it so well alongside Imam who meanwhile also completed his 17th ODI half-century. They both scored 50 off 69 to somehow give Pakistan a breath of fresh air.

The right-handed smasher got out after scoring 30 runs. It was the time when Rashid Khan came and created a few chances against Iftikhar who finally fell to Mohammad Nabi in the 27th over.

Rashid and Nabi bagged two wickets each to contribute strongly to Afghanistan’s bowling.

Imam alongside Shadab built-up his third partnership of the day. This time they scored 40 runs together before Imam lost his control against Nabi and gave a catch at mid-on which was well taken by Rashid. Imam, who survived on two back-to-back dropped catches previously, scored 61 off 94 balls.

Shadab then got himself the support of tailender Naseem Shah who had a nightmare for Afghans in last year’s T20 Asia Cup. Naseem hit two consecutive sixes on the last two match-deciding balls of Fazalhaq Farooqui to notch an unbelievable victory for Pakistan.

Naseem and Shadab stitched 34 runs off 47 balls before Shadab got run out.

Rahmat Shah took the last wicket of Haris Rauf as Afghanistan bowled out Pakistan for the first time in ODIs.

Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and put Afghanistan to bowl.

Playing XI

Pakistan: Imamul Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam(C), Mohammad Rizwan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Salman Ali Aga, Shadab Khan, Usama Mir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf

Afghanistan: Rahmanullah Gurbaz (wk), Ibrahim Zardan, Rahmat Shah, Hashmatullah Shahidi (C), Mohammad Nabi, Rashid Khan, Mujeeb Ur Rehman, Fazal Haq Farooqi, Azmatullah Omarzai, Abdul Rehman, Ikram Ali.

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