Haris Rauf takes five wickets as Pakistan thrash Afghanistan in opening ODI

Fast bowler rips through opposition batting line-up to help secure 142-run victory in Hambantota

Pakistan bowler Haris Rauf, right, celebrates with teammates after their victory over Afghanistan at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka, on August 22, 2023. AFP
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Fast-bowler Haris Rauf took five wickets as Pakistan thrashed Afghanistan by 142-runs in the opening one-day international in Hambantota on Tuesday.

Chasing 202 for victory, Afghanistan were left with a mountain to climb after slumping to 18-4 as Ibrahim Zadran, Rahmat Shah and captain Hashmatullah Shahidi all fell for ducks.

And the wickets kept tumbling as openers Rahmanullah Gurbaz (18) and Azmatullah Omarzai (who retired hurt with a back strain on 16) finished as the only Afghan players to reach double figures as the team was bowled out for just 59 in 19.2 overs.

Rauf finished with 5-18 – his maiden five-for in ODIs – while Shaheen Afridi took 2-9 as the Pakistan pace attack ripped through Afghanistan's batting line-up at the Mahinda Rajapaksa International Cricket Stadium in Sri Lanka.

“As a bowling unit, I am happy for the team,” said the player of the match Rauf, whose previous best of 4-65 came against England at Birmingham in 2021. “When I started the bowling, I just wanted to hit the hard lengths.

“Naseem and Shaheen bowled really well. I don't know [about my speed]. My focus is not in speed, just want to bowl good lengths.”

It was Afghanistan's second worst one-day total, just one run ahead of the 58 they managed against Zimbabwe in Sharjah back in 2016, and the lowest total by any team in a men's ODIs against Pakistan. It eclipsed New Zealand's 64 all out in 1986, also in Sharjah.

“It was chase-able, we had a good chance but we couldn't do,” said Shahidi. “I think our shot selection in the beginning was not good enough. Because of that also we lost some wickets.

“I am happy with our bowling performance. This is the first match. Looking forward to the next few games."

On his team's batting, he said: "You have to be smart in shot selection. That's something we want to look at moving forward.”

Earlier, Pakistan had been bowled out for 201, with opener Imam ul-Haq top-scoring with 61, while spin trio Mujeeb Ur Rahman (3-33), Mohammad Nabi (2-34) and Rashid Khan (2-42) did the damage for Afghanistan.

Pakistan had won the toss and opted to bat but were reduced to 7-2 inside two overs, losing opener captain Fakhar Zaman for two and captain Babar Azam for a third-ball duck.

Only Imam's 94-ball 61 – that included just two fours – Shadab Khan (39) and Iftikhar Ahmed (30) offered some resistance as Pakistan's much-vaunted batting faltered on a slow pitch.

“At the toss, felt the wicket was a bit dry," said Babar. “We lost wickets up front and then Imam and Iftikhar got us to a decent total. We wanted to put 250 on board but unfortunately couldn't.

“[In bowling], we just wanted to bowl as many dot balls as possible and hit hard lengths in the power play. Haris's spell was game-changing.”

The victory gives Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match series – the first bilateral series between the two nations – with the remaining games taking place in Colombo on Thursday and Saturday.

Updated: August 22, 2023, 4:43 PM