Fast bowler Haris Rauf led a pace assault on Afghanistan with a career-best five-wicket haul to give Pakistan a thumping 142-run victory in the first ODI in Sri Lanka’s Hambantota on Tuesday.
Rauf’s fiery 5-18 condemned Afghanistan to their second-lowest ODI total of 59 as they were bowled out inside 20 overs after Pakistan made 201.
The victory gives Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series – the first bilateral meeting between the two nations – with the remaining matches in Colombo on Thursday and Saturday.
Rauf carried on the demolition act after fellow quick Shaheen Shah Afridi had removed both Ibrahim Zadran and Rahmat Shah for nought off successive deliveries in the third over.
Afghanistan slumped to 4-3 when Naseem Shah dismissed skipper Hashmatullah Shahidi, also without scoring, before passing the baton to Rauf to complete the rout.
Rauf grabbed the wickets of Ikram Alikhil (four), top scorer Rahmanullah Gurbaz (18), Mohammad Nabi (seven), Rashid Khan (nought) and Mujeeb Ur Rahman (four) to wrap up a crushing victory.
Rauf’s previous best of 4-65 was against England at Birmingham in 2021.
Shaheen finished with 2-9.
Afghanistan narrowly avoided their ODI lowest total of 58 against Zimbabwe in Sharjah in 2016.
“Haris’s spell was game-changing,” said Pakistan captain Babar Azam, who led his team to a fifth win over Afghanistan in as many games.
“We wanted to put 250 but unfortunately fell short so we needed wickets and they were given to us by our fast bowlers.”
Azam said he was not worried over his batting failure after being trapped lbw by Rahman for a third-ball duck.
“Not scoring is no pressure. I always learn from my mistakes. Sometimes you score and sometimes you don’t, it’s cricket. We want to stay positive.”
Shahidi said it was a missed opportunity for Afghanistan to beat their neighbours.
“It was a chaseable target,” he said. “I think our shot selection in the beginning was not good enough and because of that we lost some wickets.”
Spinner Rahman helped restrict Pakistan by removing Azam, the top-ranked ODI batsman, on his way to figures of 3-33. Nabi took 2-34 and Rashid 2-42.
Only opener Imam-ul-Haq, who made a sedate 61, Shadab Khan (39) and Iftikhar Ahmed (30) made scores of note as Pakistan’s much-vaunted batting struggled on a slow pitch.
Batting first after winning the toss, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman off the fourth ball of the match for two before Rahman dismissed Azam and Mohammad Rizwan (21) in his first spell.
Haq steadied the innings with a fifth-wicket stand of 50 with Ahmed and put on another 40 with Shadab.
Haq’s 17th ODI half-century featured only two boundaries in an innings lasting 94 balls.
Shadab added an invaluable 35-run stand with Naseem (18*) for the ninth wicket before being run out.
© Agence France-Presse