A sensational bowling performance by Haris Rauf propelled Pakistan to a resounding 142-run triumph against Afghanistan in the first ODI clash held at Hambantota. Haris Rauf’s maiden five-wicket haul and a formidable bowling display by the rest of the pacers ensured Pakistan’s comprehensive victory.
Opting to bat after winning the toss, Pakistan faced an early setback as Fakhar Zaman departed in the first over. Afghanistan bowlers kept it tight as Pakistan continued to lose wickets at regular intervals. Iftikhar Ahmed’s gritty innings and Shadab Khan’s crucial contribution lifted Pakistan’s total, guiding them to a competitive score of 201 all out in 47.1 overs.
Imam-ul-Haq’s composed knock of 61 runs anchored the innings, while Iftikhar Ahmed’s 30 runs and Shadab Khan’s enterprising 39 were pivotal in setting up a defendable target. The Afghan bowlers, led by Mujeeb Ur Rahman and Mohammad Nabi, showcased their prowess to ensure Pakistan didn’t run away with a bigger total. Some late-order resilience exhibited by Naseem Shah helped Pakistan reach the 200-run mark.
Afghanistan’s chase faltered right from the beginning as they lost early wickets under the pressure of Shaheen Shah Afridi and Naseem Shah’s fiery pace. Rahmanullah Gurbaz showed some resistance with 18 runs, but Afghanistan’s middle-order struggled to find stability. Haris Rauf’s five-wicket haul completely dismantled Afghanistan’s batting lineup.
Azmatullah Omarzai’s valiant 16, despite retiring hurt, was the only silver lining for Afghanistan. Their innings concluded at a mere 59 runs in 19.2 overs, giving Pakistan an emphatic 142-run victory.
Haris Rauf, with his outstanding figures of 5 wickets for 18 runs, was undoubtedly the star of the match, earning him the well-deserved Player of the Match award.
The win puts Pakistan ahead in the three-match series, leading Afghanistan 1-0. Both teams will meet again for the second ODI at the same venue on 24 August.