Pakistan’s formidable pace trio and spin challenge orchestrated a comprehensive 142-run win against Afghanistan in the first ODI. Haris Rauf’s 5-fer and Imam-ul-Haq’s resilient half-century were standout performances. Afghanistan’s batting crumbled under pressure.
The cricketing world witnessed a gripping battle of bowlers as Pakistan emerged victorious in a thrilling encounter against Afghanistan in the first One Day International (ODI) held at Hambantota. Pakistan’s balanced performance, led by their pacers and supported by a resilient batting effort, saw them secure a commanding 142-run victory.
The match started with Afghanistan’s spin trio – Mujeeb Ur Rahman, Rashid Khan, and Mohammad Nabi – making a significant impact by restricting Pakistan to a total of 201 runs. Pakistan’s opening batsmen initially struggled, with Fazalhaq Farooqi’s swing dismissing Fakhar Zaman early on. Mujeeb’s well-directed deliveries kept the pressure on, leading to the dismissal of Babar Azam for a three-ball duck. Despite Mohammad Rizwan’s positive contributions, Afghanistan’s spinners created challenges for Pakistan’s middle-order.
However, Pakistan’s bowling arsenal proved to be a formidable force on a responsive pitch. Haris Rauf, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Naseem Shah combined their pace and skill to dismantle Afghanistan’s batting lineup. Afridi’s fiery spell accounted for key wickets, including Afghanistan’s top-order batters. Naseem’s aggressive pace unsettled Hashmatullah Shahidi, resulting in a crucial wicket.
The star of the bowling show, Haris Rauf, delivered a career-defining performance, picking up five wickets for just 18 runs. His devastating spell reduced Afghanistan to their second lowest ODI total, an abysmal 59 runs. Ikram Alikhil’s inside edge, Gurbaz’s outside edge, and a slew of ducks reflected Pakistan’s dominance with the ball. Azmatullah Omarzai showed some resistance before retiring hurt, while Mujeeb’s dismissal signaled the end of Afghanistan’s innings.
Imam-ul-Haq emerged as the anchor for Pakistan’s innings, steadily building partnerships amidst the fall of wickets. His gritty half-century was marked by his ability to tackle both spin and pace. Imam found support in Iftikhar Ahmed and later Shadab Khan, as they contributed crucial runs to propel Pakistan past the 200-run mark.
While Afghanistan managed to bowl out Pakistan for the first time in ODIs, their batting performance fell drastically short. Pakistan’s bowlers exploited the pitch conditions and showcased exceptional discipline to dismantle Afghanistan’s lineup. The top-order collapse, including three ducks, severely dented Afghanistan’s hopes of chasing down the target.
Pakistan’s convincing victory highlighted the importance of both pace and spin in shaping the outcome of limited-overs cricket matches. The players’ performances left cricket enthusiasts excited for the remaining matches in the series, eagerly anticipating more thrilling encounters between these two cricketing nations.