A maiden ODI century to Steve Smith and some sharp fielding has guided Australia to a comfortable win over Pakistan
Scorecard: Pakistan v Australia, first ODI
Steve Smith’s maiden one-day international century and three wickets to Mitchell Johnson have guided Australia to a 93-run win in the first One-Day International against Pakistan in Sharjah.
A battling 46 from Umar Akmal may have silenced his critics after a weak dismissal in Monday’s Twenty20 match, but it was a lone hand for Pakistan who were all out for 162 in the 37th over.
Batting in the extreme heat and humidity of the Arabian afternoon at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Smith hit a brilliant first ton in coloured clothing for Australia to lead the hosts to 8-255.
Smith could not have picked a more opportune time to deliver on his previously unrealised talent at one-day level, with only one other batsman passing 23.
Australia would also be buoyed by the success of their spin attack with two matches to come in this series in Dubai (Friday) and Abu Dhabi (Sunday).
Nathan Lyon (2-33) and Glenn Maxwell (2-29) were threatening throughout, although Maxwell’s figures were spoilt somewhat after he was spanked for three sixes in an over by Pakistan’s last-wicket pair.
Lyon found turn from his first ball, ripping one in from outside off and it wasn’t long before he made the breakthrough.
He had Sarfraz Ahmed (34) well caught by Brad Haddin after the ball had clipped Sarfraz’s glove as he attempted a sweep and bounced over his right shoulder.
Haddin’s reactions, as sharp as ever, allowed him to bobble the catch and claim it as he rocked back onto the turf.
If that catch was good, the one next ball was great.
Captain Misbah-ul-Haq pushed at a fuller ball, inside-edging it to David Warner’s right at leg-slip. He reacted quickly, catching the ball just above the turf.
Fawad Alam survived the hat-trick ball but more woe was to come for Pakistan in the next over.
Johnson had already accounted for opener Ahmed Shezad (4), caught at second slip, and he added his second in the 14th over when Asad Safiq (13) gloved down the leg side.
It left Pakistan reeling as they lost three wickets for four runs in 12 balls.
Maxwell chimed in to have Alam (7) well caught by Warner – a second outstanding piece of fielding – and later picked up a second when Wahab Riaz (5) was caught and bowled.
Sean Abbott, playing his first ODI, picked up Shahid Afridi (5), caught on the midwicket boundary by James Faulkner.
It was the second time in 48 hours that Abbott had claimed the wicket of Pakistan’s hero on debut.
In Monday morning’s T20 international, Abbott had one tail back into Afridi at 142kph to have the Pakistan skipper lbw.
It gave Abbott the curious stat of two wickets for one run in just five balls against Afridi.
Smith reached 101 before falling in the 45th over of Australia’s innings to give Afridi figures of 3-46.
Smith’s 118-ball innings included two sweetly-struck sixes and four fours.
He had scored just 78 runs in four innings during Australia’s tri-series with Zimbabwe and August on his recall to the one-day side, and had been installed at No.3 at the insistence of Michael Clarke.
That represented a disappointing return for Smith, who fell twice while in the 30s, and he had averaged just 20.73 in one-day cricket before this innings.
Smith’s previous best had been an unbeaten 46 against England in Adelaide on the Australia Day weekend in 2011, and he had only passed 40 in one other of his previous 27 innings.
Required to come in to face the second ball of the innings following Aaron Finch’s golden duck, Smith played with the composure and assuredness that saw him become a Test match regular last summer.
George Bailey won the toss and opted to bat first and, after being made to wait while ground officials fixed a sightscreen issue, Finch drove the first ball straight to backward point to gift Irfan and Pakistan the perfect start.
Smith and David Warner quickly righted that ship, putting on an 86-run partnership in the next 18 overs.
Warner had looked set for another big innings to follow his 53 in Monday morning’s Twenty20 international. That was until he flat-batted a low catch to on 43.
Having slog-swept the backwards-cap wearing Alam for a huge six, Bailey (18) top-edged his attempt to repeat the stroke next ball and was well caught by Afridi, running backwards with the flight of the ball at midwicket.
Maxwell provided plenty of entertainment in his brief innings.
Afridi got one to turn away from the bat and it took the edge, only to see it bounce out of Sarfraz’s gloves.
Seven balls later a top-edge flew high and behind the ‘keeper. Shehzad set off in purist from the slips but overran the catch, the ball thudding off his shoulder as the fielders’ knees dug into the turf in an awkward fall.
Maxwell being Maxwell, he was soon reverse-sweeping a boundary, but his luck ran out on 21.
Attempting to go after Pakistan’s 35-year-old debutant spinner Zulfiqar Babar (1-35), he miscued the lofted drive straight down the throat of the 216cm Irfan at deep mid-off.
James Faulkner (11) was lbw to Afridi, the wicket taking him to 381 ODI victims; past Brett Lee and joint sixth-highest, level with Glenn McGrath.
Abbott (3) came in at No.8 and was caught on the fence while Johnson (21) smashed three consecutive boundaries off Riaz (2-61) in the final over before being bowled.