Ali magic leads Pak­istan in first ODI against Eng­land

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

SOUTHAMP­TON — Pak­istan cap­tain Azhar Ali led from the front with 82 be­fore Eng­land fought back to hold the tourists to 260 for six in the first one-day in­ter­na­tional at Southamp­ton yes­ter­day.

In a rain-in­ter­rupted in­nings, Sar­fraz Ahmed (55) was the only other bats­man to make a fifty and Pak­istan’s plight in this day/night clash would have been worse had Azhar not twice been dropped on nine.

Azhar won the toss in the first of this five-match se­ries and elected to bat in what was then bright sun­shine.

Shar­jeel Khan, car­ry­ing on from his blis­ter­ing 152 in last week’s 255run win over Ire­land, struck three fours in 15 balls.

But the left­handed opener fell for 16 when he top-edged a pull off fast bowler Mark Wood and was caught be­hind by Jos But­tler.

Eng­land, whose field­ing had proved fal­li­ble dur­ing a re­cent 2-2 drawn Test se­ries against Pak­istan, then twice dropped Azhar. He was put down in the gully by Alex Hales off Wood, play­ing his first match for Eng­land since a Test against Pak­istan in Dubai in Oc­to­ber fol­low­ing per­sis­tent an­kle prob­lems. Azhar was still on nine when he glanced fast bowler Liam Plun­kett and a div­ing But­tler dropped the dif­fi­cult left­handed chance. Eng­land cap­tain Eoin Mor­gan de­cided to bring part­time spin­ner Joe Root on ahead of spe­cial­ist slow bowlers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid. He was re­warded when Mo­ham­mad Hafeez (11) swept a Root off-break straight to Hales at deep back­ward square leg. Azhar and Babar As­lam (40) re­built the in­nings with a third-wicket stand of 61. But Babar, who faced just 42 balls, was un­lucky when given out lbw to legspin­ner Rashid by Aus­tralian um­pire Si­mon Fry, even though re­plays clearly showed an in­side edge. How­ever, as Shar­jeel had wasted Pak­istan’s lone re­view of the in­nings, Babar had to go and Pak­istan were now 113 for three off 24 overs. Azhar pressed on to a rel­a­tively se­date 84-ball fifty, in­clud­ing four fours. He then upped the tempo by sweep­ing Rashid to the bound­ary. Azhar and Ahmed shared a fifty part­ner­ship in 56 balls be­fore the skip­per clouted Plun­kett through mid-off for a well-struck bound­ary. Ahmed took up the charge, ad­vanc­ing down the pitch to drive Wood. The wicket-keeper went on to make a 52-ball fifty. Pak­istan were 173 for for three off 35 overs and on course for a big to­tal. But soon af­ter­wards Azhar top-edged a slog-sweep off Rashid to Moeen Ali at short third man to end a 110-ball in­nings fea­tur­ing nine fours. The tourists’ progress was checked again by a brief rain break which stopped play with Pak­istan 218 for four off 42.1 overs. Af­ter the re­sump­tion both Shoaib Ma­lik and Ahmed were caught driv­ing to mid-off as they tried to force the pace. — AFP.

Azhar Ali

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