SHARJAH, UAE: All-rounder
All-rounder Shahid Afridi took five wickets while Younis Khan and Imran Farhat both hit half-centuries as Pakistan beat Afghanistan by seven wickets in the day-night international here on Friday.
Afridi claimed 5-36 as Afghanistan were bowled out for 195 in 48.3 overs before Younis hit an unbeaten 70 and Farhat made 52 to help Pakistan reach their modest target in 37.1 overs in the first-ever one-dayer between the two countries.
Despite the loss, Afghanistan still put up an inspired display at Sharjah Stadium, justifying their rise in international cricket which saw them win the right to play one-dayers in 2009.
Younis, who hit 10 boundaries off 65 balls, added 57 for the third wicket with Farhat after paceman Dawlat Zardan dismissed opener (eight) and Asad Shafiq (20) in his first five overs to leave Pakistan at 42-2.
Even after Farhat's dismissal to spinner Samiullah Shinwari, Yonuis continued to excel, adding an unbeaten 99 with skipper Misbah-ul Haq, who scored 40 not out with three fours and two sixes, for the fourth wicket.
Misbah said Afghanistan surprised him with their spirit.
"I am really happy with the spirit of the Afghanistan players," said Misbah. "There were times in the match when they put us on the back foot and that was expected, so we did well to win in the end."
Afghanistan captain Nawroz Mangal said his team put up a satisfactory show.
"This was our first-ever one-dayer against a top team and I am happy with the performance of the team," said Mangal.
"We couldn't put up a big total which was needed against a side like Pakistan."
Earlier Afridi derailed Afghanistan's progress who were set on track for a fighting total by opener Karim Sadiq (40) after they won the toss and decided to bat.
Afridi also became the second spinner with the highest number of one-day wickets (338) behind (534), but surpassing India's Anil Kumble who had 333 wickets.
Despite Afridi's brilliance, the Afghan batsmen put up an excellent show and had they not lacked experience – playing their first one-day international against a top nation – they would have scored more.
There was plenty of fireworks on and off the field as the Afghan batsmen hit six sixes during their innings which delighted the bumper 15 000-strong weekend crowd – mostly Pakistan and Afghan expats.
Paceman Umar Gul provided Pakistan with the early breakthrough when he caught Noor Ali (nine) off his own bowling before Afridi dismissed Mohammad Shahzad (20), Mangal (11), Gulbadin Naib (seven) and Sadiq in his first spell.
Sadiq hit two boundaries and two sixes during his aggressive 47-ball knock.
Mohammad Nabi, who scored 37 with two sixes, added 46 for the sixth wicket with Shinwari who finished on 32, an innings studded with four boundaries.
Gul and Wahab Riaz took two wickets each.