Pakistan captain Younus Khan praised Shahid Afridi as a “fantastic performer” after the all-rounder starred with both bat and ball in their side’s convincing win over New Zealand in the first one-day international on Tuesday.
Afridi hit a fiery 50-ball 71 to help Pakistan post 287-9 in their allotted 50 overs before taking two wickets to restrict their rivals to 149, helping Pakistan win the match by 138 runs at Abu Dhabi Stadium.
“Afridi is a fantastic performer and it’s wonderful to see him perform like this,” said Younus after the win. “He batted like he always does, aggressive, and when he has the ball in his hands he aims to take wickets.”
The victory gave Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the three-match one-day series, relocated to the United Arab Emirates after New Zealand refused to tour Pakistan over security fears.
Afridi was well supported by Kamran Akmal, who hit a 43-ball 67, while opener Khalid Latif laid the foundations with 64.
Latif slowly built the innings through a third-wicket stand of 57 with veteran Mohammad Yousuf (30), after Pakistan lost Salman Butt and Younus Khan — both without scoring to Kiwi quick Shane Bond.
New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori said Afridi and Akmal were the difference.
“Obviously we couldn’t execute as well as we could, Afridi and Akmal played some aggressive cricket and we conceded far too many runs in the last 12 overs, and that was the real reason we lost the game,” Vettori said.
Pakistan mustered 107 runs in the last ten overs, including 55 in the batting power-play — runs Vettori thinks lost his side the game.
“On such flat wickets you need to hit good areas consistently, which we tried, but Afridi and Akmal were excellent and we were left to chase a very big total,” said Vettori, who took two wickets for 34 in his ten overs.
New Zealand lost four early wickets before Vettori (38) and Aaron Redmond (52) added 69 for the fifth wicket — then entered Afridi the bowler.
“We were thinking of scoring 100 runs in the last ten overs but Afridi again made that breakthrough. He has been a very good bowler, No. 10 in the world, and brings aggression and control to the bowling,” Vettori said.
Vettori hoped pacemen Kyle Mills and James Franklin — who both missed the first match through injuries — would be available for the next game.