HAMBANTOTA - Haris Rauf’s maiden five-wicket haul propelled Pakistan to register a crushing 142-run victory over Afghanistan in the first ODI of the three-match series on Tuesday.
Set to chase a modest 202, the Afghanistan batting lineup failed completely against a pace-packed Pakistan attack and could only accumulate 59 runs before being bundled out in the 13th over. The hosts after having a disastrous start, kept losing at an alarming rate as Pakistan pacers ran riot.
Opening batter Rahmanullah Gurbaz (18) and Azmatullah Omarzai made notable contributions with the bat while the rest failed to make it into the double figures. Coming out to bat at number seven, Omarzai looked to counterattack the Pakistan bowlers with a brisk knock but could only score 16 before getting retired out in the 17th o ver.
Haris Rauf spearheaded Pakistan’s bowling charge against Pakistan with his maiden five-wicket haul while Shaheen Shah Afridi took two. Naseem Shah and Shadab Khan, on the other hand, had a wicket apiece to their names.
Opting to bat first, Afghanistan’s spin attack booked Pakistan on a meagre 201 despite Imam-ul-Haq’s fighting half-century. Mujeeb Ur Rahman led the attack with three wickets, including the prized scalp of Pakistan captain Babar Azam. While Rashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi contributed with one wicket each.
Pakistan went off to a horrible start after winning the toss as they were reduced to 7-2 in two overs, with Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman back in the pavilion. Imam-ul-Haq, however, remained calm on his end, anchoring through the innings as he knitted a 33-run partnership with Mohammad Rizwan before Mujeeb struck again to reduce Pakistan to 40-3, which quickly became 62-4 with the wicket of Agha Salman.
Iftikhar Ahmed and Imam-ul- Haq then stabilized the innings with a formidable 50-run stand in 69 balls. However, Mohammad Nabi broke the budding stand as Iftikhar was caught by Afghanistan captain Hashmatullah Shahidi. Iftikhar scored 30 runs from 41 deliveries with the help of two boundaries.
Mohammad Nabi struck again to end Imam’s cautious innings at a total of 152, breaking the 40-run stand between Imam and Shadab Khan. Imam-ul- Haq’s 94-ball 61 featured only two boundaries.
Pakistan appeared to be bundled out under 200 runs against Afghanistan as they had slumped to 163-8.
However, Shadab Khan and Naseem Shah stitched a 34-run partnership to drag the total to 198 at the fall of the ninth wicket. Shadab Khan scored 39 runs off 50 balls with the help of three boundaries. Rahmat Shah picked up the final wicket of Haris Rauf to wrap up the innings at 201.