Shahid Afridi returned career-best bowling figures and then contributed with the bat to anchor Pakistan’s four-wicket win over Australia in the first day-night international in Dubai on Wednesday.
The 29-year-old exposed Australia’s frailties against spin with 6-38 to help Pakistan bundle their opponents out for a paltry 168 before hitting a whirlwind 24 to help the team chase down the target in 44.1 overs.
The victory, only Pakistan’s second in their last 11 matches against Australia, gave them a 1-0 lead in the five-match one-day series.
Pakistan made heavy weather of the modest run-chase as they lost opening batsman Salman Butt (5) and captain Younus Khan (11) before Kamran Akmal (48) and Misbah-ul-Haq with an unbeaten 30 avoided any further hiccups.
Akmal hit nine boundaries during his 62-ball knock, while Afridi notched five boundaries during his 16-ball stay but Australia made regular inroads, dismissing Shoaib Malik (24) and Nasir Jamshed (9) to keep a check.
Afridi hit two boundaries off Stuart Clark and then took 16 off a Ben Hilfenhaus over before holing out at mid-on to the same bowler.
At 6-152, it looked either way, but Haq kept his cool as Gul (8 not out) hit the winning boundary.
The second match will be played in Dubai today. The last three matches are scheduled for Abu Dhabi on Monday, May 1 and May 3.