Afridi puts sluggish Australia in a spin

Shahid Afridi starred with bat and ball in inspiring Pakistan to a comfortable four-wicket win over Australia in their first one-day cricket international.

updated: April 23, 2009 17:51 IST
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Shahid Afridi starred with bat and ball in inspiring Pakistan to a comfortable four-wicket win over Australia in their first one-day cricket international on Wednesday.

In the first ODI between them since February 2005, Afridi took a career-best 6-38 in helping to oust Australia for 168 in the 39th over. He then went in at the fall of the fourth wicket with pressure mounting, and smashed 24 runs and five boundaries in 16 balls.

Pakistan reached 171-6 with the first ball of the 45th over to take first blood in the five-match series at Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium, which became the 172nd ODI venue in the world.

"I am really happy to have contributed to Pakistan's success against a team like Australia," Afridi said.

"I spent a lot of time with (Pakistan legspinning great) Abdul Qadir in the last few months and learnt a lot from him. There was a bit of uneven bounce in the pitch and some turn and I just concentrated on bowling on the right line and length."

Australia won the toss and was in command when Afridi was introduced by skipper Younis Khan in the 13th over.

Despite losing opener Shaun Marsh to a run out for 16 at 41-1, Brad Haddin and Shane Watson were comfortable as they took the score to 95 in the 19th over.

Afridi then deceived Haddin to lob a catch to Younis for 40, hatching a parade of Australian batsmen to the crease and back.

Australia lost eight batsmen in the next 12 overs for just 27 runs.

Only some lusty hitting by James Hopes, who topscored with an unbeaten 48 in a 46-run partnership with last man Ben Hilfenhaus, carried his team past 150. The innings lasted 38.5 overs.

"Pakistan played really well, especially their spinners," Australia captain Michael Clarke said.

"Both Afridi and (Saeed) Ajmal made full use of the conditions. I was disappointed with our batting again. Our middle order needs to bat better and make some runs. I think we have some work tomorrow looking at the footage from today's match and see how we can improve on this performance."

Afridi was well supported by offspinner Ajmal, playing in only his sixth ODI. Ajmal was miserly, giving away just 19 runs for his two wickets, which included Clarke for 4.

"The spinners did a great job for us, but it was a good team effort as the fielders chipped in and the batsmen also applied themselves," Younis said. "We knew before the start of the series that the spinners would play a vital role as historically, pitches in this region help them."

Pakistan started its innings before the scheduled interval and lost the wicket of Salman Butt for 5 in the second of the seven overs.

Younis was dismissed on 11 soon after resumption, but Kamran Akmal hit 48 and added 48 runs with former skipper Shoaib Malik for the third wicket.

But when Stuart Clark induced an edge from Akmal to Haddin, and Hopes did the same with Malik for 24 at 99-4, Australia's fightback began to raise the tension again.

However, Afridi's cameo and a sedate knock from Misbah-ul-Haq with 30 from 68 balls guided Pakistan to the victory.

Hopes was the best of the bowlers, taking 2-22 in his eight overs.

The second match will be on Friday.