Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs Afghanistan 1st ODI 2023

Pakistan 201 (Imam 61, Iftikhar 30, Mujeeb 3-31, Nabi 2-34, Rashid 2-42) defeated Afghanistan 59 (Rauf 5-18, Afridi 2-9) by 142 points

Fast bowlers having hopping and swinging hitters are the perfect fire for the ice that is spinners having tangled hitters. On Tuesday in Hambantota, the joy of watching the bowlers do their job reached a perfect crescendo, with Pakistan grouping Afghanistan for 59 to secure a big win.

First, the spin trio from Afghanistan – Mujeeb Ur RahmanRashid Khan and Mohammad Nabi – eliminated Pakistan for 201st place. Then Pakistan’s pace tripled Haris-RaufShaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah put on a fiery display to knock out Afghanistan for their second-lowest ODI total, to win the first ODI by 142 runs.

Rauf collected five wickets for 18, his best effort in the ODIs, after Afridi and Naseem sparked Afghanistan’s downfall. Afridi started by bouncing Ibrahim Zadran on his second before asking Rahmat Shah to throw a full pitch to shorten the mid wicket of his next ball. Naseem, who kept Gurbaz on a leash with his high pace and movement, fired Hashmatullah Shahidi from a bouncer. It got big for Shahidi, who attempted the draw and nearly cleared the front square leg. But Shadab Khan leapt to his left and kicked the ball up, before catching it in one motion as he landed to dismiss the Afghan captain.

With three of the top four hitters knocked out for a duck, there wasn’t much to write home about the rest of the Afghan batting show either. Rauf started his spell with a defender whom Ikram Alikhil, playing an ODI for the first time since November 2019, edged past the wicketkeeper. Gurbaz was never comfortable throughout his spell and gave outside advantage to the wicketkeeper for 18, the best score of the set.

Azmatullah Omarzai fought his way to 16 from 12 with three fours before retiring injured, even as Rauf ran through the middle order and finished with a five for after Mujeeb made a mistake mid- course.

Earlier on a hot afternoon Babar Azam won the coin toss and Pakistan opted to strike on a dry surface but were down 7 for 2 in two overs. Left-arm point guard Fazalhaq Farooqi troubled Fakhar Zaman with his swing before sliding it off. He slid a yorker inside on the second ball before running one away, which Fakhar couldn’t help but push. Mujeeb, opening the bowling alley, slipped a full one into the line of stumps sliding over it, beating Babar’s defense to trap him in weight for a three-ball blob.

Mohammad Rizwan, back to No.4 after reaching No.5 in the previous series against New Zealand, looked positive from the start. He stroked Farooqi for two fours in the fifth. First, he tossed a full ball through the air through space with extra coverage before stroking one into the same area a ball later. Rizwan hit two more fours on Farooqi’s next pass to boost Pakistan’s run rate.

But Mujeeb, in his fourth over, trapped Rizwan lbw to put Pakistan back. He threw a carrom ball around the leg which Rizwan missed when trying to defend to the side only to be hit in the back leg. Replays showed that the bonds would have been cut. Agha Salman, fresh off a successful series against New Zealand at home in May, was pinned down before being stumped by a googly Rashid as Pakistan stumbled to 62-4.

All in, Imam-ul-Haq continued steadily, punishing Farooqi’s bad balls but more importantly playing Mujeeb, Rashid as well as Nabi’s back foot rotation. Its half-century was a real transplant, in that it only included the two fours. He ran well between the stumps even though the wickets were falling around him.

But in a bid to up the ante against Nabi, he got the upper hand after running down the track. However, Shahidi couldn’t hold on after returning to cover. Imam got another life when a high shot to deep cover was shelled by Omarzai before an unwelcome shot was just short of a long run. However, the Imam’s luck ran out when he looked to hit Nabi halfway through, missing a shot for Rashid, who fell after backing up.

Thanks to his stay in the middle, Imam first found an effective ally in Iftikhar Ahmed, with whom he added 50 from 69 for the fifth wicket, then in Shadab for a 40-run partnership.

Iftikhar helped Pakistan’s recovery by using the crease against the effects and knocking them down in singles and doubles. He didn’t let short and wide deliveries go unpunished, using the cut shot for each of his two fours. But an off-spin delivery from Nabi, who resisted in the box, saw him take a hold in the middle of the short wicket.

On the other hand, Shadab, who was only playing his fourth ODI in 2023, picked Rashid’s googly early on and hit him in the head. He added another 34 with Naseem for the ninth wicket before a direct hit from Mujeeb from a thin leg saw him run out on the bowler’s side.

Afghanistan managed to knock out Pakistan for the first time in ODIs but a slight surrender at bat means their wait for a first win against their opponents in this format continues.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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