Pakistan loses first ODI by 93 runs after being bowled out for 162
Pakistan’s batsmen failed to come up with answers against Australia’s bowling attack, as it suffered a 93-run loss in the first One-Day International at Sharjah on Tuesday (October 7).
Steven Smith’s maiden century propelled the four-time ICC Cricket World Cup winner to 255 for 8. After that, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Johnson - returning from a rib injury - made for a good combination of spin and pace to bundle Pakistan out for 162 in 36.3 overs.
Umar Akmal was the only Pakistan batsman who looked comfortable on a pitch that began to turn acutely as the game progressed. He fell for a well-made 46, but his efforts could do little to prevent Australia from going 1-0 up in the three-match series.
At the start of the day though, Australia was the one with its back against the wall, losing Aaron Finch off the first ball of the match.
Smith, coming in at No 3, steadied the innings with caution as he teamed up with David Warner to carry Australia to 86 before the opener was dismissed by Shahid Afridi. Warner fell after an entertaining 43 and the three batsmen that followed – George Bailey, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner – could do little against the spin combination of Zulfiqar Babar, the debutant left-arm spinner, and Afridi.
At the start, it seemed the pitch would be a good one for the pacemen, but it was evident that the spinners would have a big say very soon into the match.
Afridi, Babar and Fawad Alam were getting copious amounts of turn and bounce, and troubled the rest of the Australian batting line-up even as Smith continued to play freely.
Smith, whose previous ODI best was an unbeaten 46 against England in Adelaide in 2011, struck a fluid 101 from 118 balls with six fours and two sixes.
Following Smith’s dismissal to Afridi, who finished with figures of 3 for 46 from his 10 overs, Brad Haddin (23 not out) and Johnson (21) provided the finishing touches as Australia reached a competitive target.
Pakistan would have been reasonably satisfied at the break with how the bowlers had done, particularly with Saeed Ajmal, who was suspended for an illegal bowling action last month, missing.
Ajmal’s replacement, Babar, at 35 years and 301 days, became the second oldest Pakistani to debut behind Younis Ahmed, who played his first ODI at 39 years and 121 days in 1987.
Pakistan might have begun its chase with the target seemingly within reach, but the pitch wasn’t docile. Though Ahmed Shehzad’s wicket in the third over of Pakistan’s innings showed little to justify the pitch’s characteristics as the batsman chased a full and wide delivery from Johnson to edge it to Haddin, the wicketkeeper, it was evident from early on that the Pakistan batsmen were going to have it tough.
Sarfraz Ahmed and Asad Shafiq helped the side out of a spot by adding 50 runs for the second wicket but two wickets from two deliveries by Lyon sent it reeling.
After Lyon got rid of Sarfraz and Misbah-ul-Haq, Johnson joined the party by accounting for Shafiq in the very next over. Down by four wickets with just 63 runs on board, Pakistan was in more trouble and the fall of Fawad Alam to Maxwell and Afridi to Sean Abbott, the 22-year-old debutant paceman, only made matters worse.
The fall of Akmal, to Kane Richardson in the 35th over, signalled the end of Pakistan’s fight. Babar and Mohammad Irfan struck a few meaty blows to give the scattered crowd at the stadium something to cheer about in the end.
Johnson finished with three wickets, while Lyon and Maxwell bagged two wickets apiece.
The teams will move to Dubai for the second ODI on October 10 before heading out to Abu Dhabi for the third match on October 12.
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