Wily Afridi puts sluggish Australia in a spin

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DUBAI, (Reuters) – Shahid Afridi returned a career-best haul of six wickets to guide Pakistan to a comfortable four-wicket win over Australian in the first of five one-day internationals in Dubai yesterday.

The experienced leg-spinner, subtly varying his pace on a slow turning wicket, ripped through the Australian middle order as the visitors collapsed to 168 all out after a solid start.

Pakistan made hard work of reaching a modest target before sealing victory in the 45th over with Misbah-ul Haq finishing on 30 not out.

Afridi completed figures of six for 38, the best by a Pakistan bowler against Australia.

Australia looked on course for a decent total when Brad Haddin and Shane Watson, who each made 40, took the score to 95 in the 19th over but the spinners triggered a dramatic collapse.

With Afridi striking at regular intervals and young off-spinner Saeed Ajmal repeatedly beating the batsmen, Australia lost eight wickets for the addition of just 27 runs.

James Hope (48 not out) and Ben Hilfenhaus (four) added 46 for the last wicket to bring some respectability to the Australian score.

Pakistan built their innings around Kamran Akmal (48), Shoaib Malik (24) and Misba-ul Haq but it was Afridi who eased the pressure, hammering a quickfire 24 off 16 balls to set up the world champions’ 10th defeat in 15 one-day internationals this year.

“The Australian bowlers did make things difficult, but we had some good partnerships out there and that swung the match in our favour,” Pakistan captain Younis Khan told reporters.

Australia’s stand-in captain Michael Clarke praised Pakistan’s performance.

“Full credit to Pakistan for playing really well,” he said. “Our batting was again a bit disappointing and we need to work hard in this area if we aim to do well in the series.”

The series was moved out of Pakistan due to security concerns.

AUSTRALIA innings
S. Marsh run out 16
B. Haddin c Younis Khan b Shahid Afridi 40
S. Watson b Shahid Afridi 40
M. Clarke c Kamran Akmal b Saeed Ajmal 4
A. Symonds c Kamran Akmal b Shahid Afridi 2
C. Ferguson c Misbah-ul Haq b Shahid Afridi 2
J. Hopes not out 48
N. Hauritz b Saeed Ajmal 1
N. Bracken b Shahid Afridi 1
S. Clark b Shahid Afridi 2
B. Hilfenhaus b Umar Gul 4

Extras (lb-1, w-7) 8

Total (all out, 38.5 overs) 168

Fall of wickets: 1-41 2-95 3-100 4-107 5-108 6-109 7-110 8-118 9-122 10-168.

Bowling: Umar Gul 9.5-0-48-1, Shoaib Akhtar 6-0-35-0, Rao Iftikhar 2-0-18-0, Shahid Afridi 10-0-38-6, Saeed Ajmal 10-1-19-2, Shoiab Malik 1-0-9-0.

PAKISTAN innings
Salman Butt lbw b Hilfenhaus 5
Kamran Akmal c Haddin b Clark 48
Younis Khan c Bracken b Hopes 11
Shoaib Malik c Haddin b Hopes 24
Misbah-ul-Haq not out 30
Shahid Afridi c Bracken b Hilfenhaus 24
Nasir Jamshed b Symonds 9
Umar Gul not out 8

Extras (lb-5, w-1, nb-6) 12

Total (six wickets, 44.1 overs) 171

Did not bat: Shoaib Akhtar, Rao Iftikhar, Saeed Ajmal

Fall of wickets: 1-5 2-33 3-81 4-99 5-138 6-152

Bowling: N.Bracken 9.1-2-25-0, B.Hilfenhaus 10-3-42-2 (nb-6, w-1), J.Hopes 8-1-22-2, S.Clark 8-1-32-1, N.Hauritz 6-0-27-0, A.Symonds 3-0-18-1

Second one-day international: Dubai Sports City, April 24.
Third one-day international: Dubai Sports City, April 27.
Fourth one-day international: Sheikh Zayed stadium, May 1