Smith’s ton earns Australia 93-run win in 1st ODI
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Steven Smith’s maiden century in limited-overs cricket spurred Australia to a convincing 93-run victory in the first one-day international against Pakistan on Tuesday.
Smith’s 101 off 118 balls anchored Australia to 255-8 as fit-again Mitchell Johnson (3-24) and Nathan Lyon (2-33) ripped through the top order to dismiss Pakistan for 162 in 36.3 overs at the start of the three-match series.
“I just tried to spend time in the middle, get the ones and twos and hit the bad balls,” Smith said.
“Hopefully I will get a few more opportunities (at No. 3) and a few more big scores.”
Umar Akmal top-scored with 46, but got little support from his teammates after offspinner Lyon got rid of Sarfraz Ahmed (34) and captain Misbah-ul-Haq off successive deliveries to reduce Pakistan to 59-3.
Johnson, who had found the outside edge of opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad in his second over, then made it 63-4 when he had Asad Shafiq caught behind off a sharp short-pitched delivery as Pakistan lost three wickets in four runs.
Australia continued to press hard and Warner, after taking a one-handed blinder in the leg slip to dimiss Misbah, took another fine diving catch at point to remove Fawad Alam.
Shahid Afridi gave debutant Sean Abbott his first wicket in limited-over cricket and Johnson returned to find a thin outside edge of Anwar Ali as Pakistan’s innings folded with more than 13 overs to be bowled.
“It’s not a good start. It’s hard to take that, especially the way we have batted today,” Misbah said.
“We have to do lots of things ... right from the top and in the middle order, nobody is getting runs for us.”
Earlier, Smith, who hadn’t even scored a half century in his previous 38 ODIs, made a resolute century with six fours and two sixes after captain George Bailey won the toss and elected to bat first.
The allrounder came to the crease for the second ball of the match, after Aaron Finch was out for a golden duck thanks to a brilliant low catch by Shehzad at point off tall fast bowler Mohammad Irfan. Smith combined with Warner, who made 43, in an 86-run stand before holing out in the deep in the 45th over.
Afridi finally ended his six-match wicketless run in ODIs and bagged 3-46 to make up somewhat for the loss of suspended spinner Saeed Ajmal and the injured Mohammad Hafeez.
Smith and Warner built the innings with their 18-over stand before Afridi broke through in his second over when Akmal took a sharp catch off Warner’s mistimed pull at short midwicket.
Bailey tried to up the scoring tempo and hoisted part-time spinner Alam for six over midwicket, before Afridi took a great catch by running backward from short midwicket as the Australia captain tried to repeat the shot.
Afridi should have removed Glenn Maxwell on 1 and 5 but first wicketkeeper Ahmed spilled an easy catch and then Shehzad dropped a sitter.
However, the dropped catches didn’t prove too costly for Pakistan, as 35-year-old debutant left-arm spinner Zulfiqar Babar kept the pressure on a slow pitch and Maxwell holed out in the deep after scoring 21.
Smith, whose previous best ODI score was 46 against England at Adelaide in 2011, raised his century off 115 balls, but three balls later played a tired looking shot to give Afridi his third wicket.
Afridi’s 381st ODI wicket lifted him past Brett Lee on the all-time list and tied him for sixth with another Australian, Glenn McGrath.
Australia’s tailenders struggled to score freely in the last five overs before Johnson, who was declared fit for the three-match one-day series after a rib injury, made a quickfire 21 off 16 balls, and Brad Haddin remained unbeaten on 23 off 27 balls.
The second match of the series will be played at Dubai on Friday while Abu Dhabi will host the final game on Sunday.