Sharjah: Haris Sohail hogged the limelight through an elegant unbeaten maiden century to help Pakistan post an impressive 280-5 in the first One Day International of the five-match series at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Sohail’s unconquered 101 runs came off 115 balls with six boundaries and a six.
Umar Akmal, returning to the ODI squad since his last match in January 2017, hit 48 runs off 50 balls with three sixes and put on 98 runs in 18.2 overs with Sohail.
Towards the end Faheem Ashraf (29) and Imad Wasim (28 not out) boosted Pakistan’s total. Earlier, opener and debutant Shan Masood, impressed everyone with a stylish 40 runs off 62 balls.
Pakistan had won the toss and elected to bat. Imam-ul-Haq, who has established himself as a fine opener, stepped out and hit Nathan Coulter-Nile for a straight six in the fourth over. Masood began fluently by hitting Jhye Richardson for two consecutive boundaries in the fifth over. The first was an elegant square drive and next a well-timed pull. He also pulled the last ball of that over for another boundary. Imam also pulled Coulter-Nile for another boundary and Pakistan were off to a breezy start.
The opening pair put on 35 runs in 8.4 overs when off-spinner Nathan Lyon ended the partnership by having Imam out for 17 with a tossed up delivery that forced the left-handed batsman hit back into the bowler’s hand.
Sohail joined Masood and both the left-handers kept the score board moving picking the gaps elegantly. Leg spinner Adam Zampa did occasionally beat the batsmen with his turn but failed to pick up wickets.
Masood, who grew in confidence, hit Lyon over mid-off for another boundary. The pair put on 43 runs in 10.1 overs when Coulter-Nile forced Mashood play on to his wicket while attempting a pull.
Akmal and Sohail steered Pakistan past the 100-run mark in the 23rd over. At the score on 110 for two, Akmal on 13 escaped being caught by Peter Handscomb at deep cover off Lyon as Handscomb failed to hold on to the miscued shot.
Akmal celebrated his lucky escape by hitting Richardson for two successive sixes. He also hit the last ball of that over for another six over long on.
Pakistan went past the 150-run mark in the 32nd over.
Akmal fell two short of his half century lifting Coulter-Nile to Finch at mid-off. It was a good comeback knock from Akmal.
Skipper Shoaib Malek walked in with only 12 more overs to go. He hit Maxwell for a boundary and a six but got bowled to the last ball of that over for 11.
Faheem Ashraf played some nice drives especially a cut shot behind point off Maxwell. Sohail moved on to his nineties through an edged short to third man. Ashraf too utilised the gap in the slips to get some runs.
Ashraf on 29 got caught by Marcus Stonis at backward point off Richardson.
Before the start of the match, the teams observed a minute’s silence for the tragedy that occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand, seven days ago.
Pakistan: 280-5 in 50 overs (Sohail 101*, Akmal 48; Coulter-Nile 2-61)