Pakistan won their first ODI of the series against Afghanistan by 142 runs. They were the first ones to bat for a total of 201 runs in 47.1 overs. Afghanistan could only respond by bringing up 59 runs in 19.2 overs. This is now the lowest ODI total an opponent has scored versus Pakistan in the format.
Pakistan’s show was brightened up by Haris Rauf. He later earned the tag of Player of the Match for picking up 5 wickets at an economy of 2.84 in 6.2 overs. Notably, 2 of them were maiden over deliveries. His victims include only one batter from the top 4 wickets – Rahmanullah Gurbaz. He was going strong for 18 runs; however, he came under pressure since his strike rate started lagging behind.
This was a home series for Afghanistan, with Sri Lanks hosting it for them amid the national crisis in their backyard.
The most recent team that registered the lowest ODI total against Pakistan was Zimbabwe in 2018 – 67 runs. New Zealand featured two times on the list; once in 1986 with 64 runs and the second time in 1990 with 74 runs. Both these scores came at Sharjah. Sri Lanka scored 78 runs back in 2002, again in Sharjah. Overall, the top five performances of Pakistan have come in a single venue – Sharjah.
As for Hambantota hosting Afghanistan and Pakistan for the first ODI, the pitch was examined to have a balanced approach for batters and bowlers. Afghanistan was given the chance to restrict the toss winners to the minimum scoreboard possible.
The way they started their bowling attack, it felt as if Pakistan would collapse at somewhere around 150-180 runs. The opening pair was broken on the fourth ball of the inning, courtesy of Fazalhaq Farooqi. Even Babar Azam had to go back to the pavilion without scoring a single run. Imam-ul-Haq, however, had other plans. He decided to stick to a lower strike rate of 64.89, giving himself time to understand the pitch and carry at least one partnership.
Imam swept 61 runs in 94 balls. Wickets kept falling from the other end, and it was not until the end of the 36th over he, too, had to accept the send-off from his opponents. Some of the best betting sites for cricket had their interests in Pakistan. They continue favoring the visitors with two more ODIs yet to be played. There is a chance that they will win the series by 2-1.
What came as a shock was three top four Afghan batters went back for a duck. Shaheen Afridi struck all the right chords, like he always does, with the new ball in early overs. The highest score from them was 18 runs by Gurbaz, followed by Omarzai’s 16 runs.
Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium will host the second ODI between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was hard work, but Afghan supporters want to know if it is something that can be rectified in the follow-up.
Shahidi is leading his side, and Babar Azam is in charge of Pakistan’s National Cricket team. How the remaining ODIs playout will better demonstrate the performance of the hosts for Asia Cup 2023.