Afridi's best helps Pakistan beat Australia
by AFP

Ground:Dubai Sports City Stadium, Dubai
Scorecard:Australia v Pakistan
Player:Saeed Ajmal, Shahid Afridi
Event:Australia in United Arab Emirates 2008/09

DateLine: 22nd April 2009


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 here 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 opener Salman Butt (five) 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 (nine) 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 (eight not out) hit the winning boundary.


Pakistan captain Younus praised Afridi for his brilliant bowling.


"It was fantastic team effort," said Younus. "The fast bowlers did well to check the openers and then Afridi and Saeed Ajmal bowled very well. We wobbled a bit when batting but its (all's) well that ends well."


Australia captain Michael Clarke blamed poor batting for the loss.


"No excuses, we batted poorly and all credit to their bowlers," said Clarke, standing in for regular captain Ricky Ponting in this series. "We were 70-80 short but it was a good effort to not let Pakistan win until 44 overs."


Earlier, Australia were well placed at 95-1 with opener Brad Haddin (40) and Shane Watson (40) before losing eight wickets for 27 runs as batsmen crumbled on the untested pitch at the new Dubai Stadium which Wednesday became the 172nd one-day venue.


Afridi's previous best one-day bowling of 5-11 came against Kenya at Birmingham in 2004.


James Hopes, who top-scored with 48 not out, added 46 for the last wicket -- a record against Pakistan in one-dayers -- with Hilfenhaus (four) to give some respectability to the total.


Haddin along with Shaun Marsh had given Australia a brisk 41-run start before Marsh, requiring a runner after pulling his hamstring while taking a quick single, was run out.


Shane Watson (40) helped Haddin add 54 for the second wicket but once the spinners came, wickets fell like nine pins as Afridi first had Haddin in his fourth over, caught off a miscued drive.


Haddin hit three fours and a six off 52 balls.


Watson looked dangerous during his 47-ball knock and hit two boundaries and a six off Afridi before the leg-spinner dismissed him and returning all-rounder Andrew Symonds in his sixth over.


In between Ajmal (2-19) had Clarke caught behind for four.


Afridi also dismissed Callum Ferguson (two), Nathan Bracken (one) and Clarke (two) as Australia were on the verge of being shot out for their lowest total of 120 before Hopes averted that with flurry of strokes.


Hopes hit five fours and a six during his 46-ball knock.


The second match will be played here on Friday. The last three matches are scheduled for Abu Dhabi on April 27, May 1 and 3.

(Article: Copyright © 2009 AFP)


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