Smith century anchors Australia to 255-8
SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Steven Smith’s maiden century in limited-overs cricket led Australia to 255-8 against Pakistan in the first one-day international on Tuesday.
Smith, who didn’t even score a half century in his previous 38 ODIs, made a resolute 101 off 118 balls 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 Ahmed Shehzad at point. Smith combined with David Warner, who made 43, in an 86-run stand before holing out in the deep in the 45th over.
Shahid 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.
Mitchell Johnson lifted the total by hitting three successive boundaries in a 17-run last over by paceman Wahab Riaz, who took 2-61.
Fast bowler Mohammad Irfan gave Pakistan a terrific start thanks to Finch’s poor drive. But Smith and Warner built the innings with their 18-over stand before Afridi broke through in his second over when Umar 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 Fawad Alam for a six over midwicket, before Afridi took a blinder by running backwards 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 Sarfraz 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 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.