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England-Pakistan Series

England 'C team' grade Pakistan 'F'


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Photo: AFP

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Saqib Mahmood marked his return to England duty with a four-wicket haul as the completely changed hosts put their Covid-19 problems behind them with an emphatic nine-wicket win over Pakistan in the first one-day international at Cardiff on Thursday.

Player of the match Mahmood took an ODI best 4-42 as Pakistan were skittled out for just 141 with more than 14 overs left to bat.

England, the reigning 50-over world champions, finished on 142-1 to go 1-0 up in a three-match series ahead of Saturday's clash at Lord's. 

Dawid Malan was 68 not out after a run-ball fifty.

Together with Test batsman Zak Crawley (58 not out), one of five ODI debutants in the England team, he shared an unbroken stand of 120 as a match scheduled for 100 overs finished in a mere 67.1 

England were fielding a completely changed XI from their previous ODI -- the first time this had happened to any side in the 50-year history of the format -- after a Covid-19 outbreak within their existing squad during a recent 2-0 series win at home to Sri Lanka required all 16 players originally selected to play against Pakistan to self-isolate.

In addition, injuries to the likes of fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Olly Stone and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler meant they were effectively without two first-choice XIs.

Yet their 'C team' dominated from the moment Mahmood took a wicket with the first ball of the match -- and then dismissed Pakistan captain Babar Azam, the world's top-ranked ODI batsman, for a duck with the third ball. 

Such was England's command, stand-in captain Ben Stokes bowled just one over despite the World Cup-winner being the most experienced member of the attack.

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Sensational start 

England made a sensational start when Mahmood snared Imam-ul-Haq lbw with the first ball after a review ordered by Stokes confirmed the delivery had pitched in line.

Two balls later, Mahmood had a prize wicket when Azam edged to Crawley at second slip, with Pakistan yet to score a run.

And when Mahmood had Pakistan debutant Saud Shakeel lbw for five, the tourists were 26-4 from seven overs.

But Fakhar Zaman counter-attacked to the delight of Pakistan fans in a crowd limited to 2,251 by Welsh government virus restrictions.

The left-handed opener hit several fine boundaries, including a superb straight drive off debutant fast bowler Brydon Carse.

New batsman Sohaib Maqsood, in his first ODI for five years, flat-batted Carse over extra-cover for six.

But a promising stand of 53 ended in farcical fashion when non-striker Maqsood, lured down the pitch by the advancing Zaman's call for a single, was undone when his partner suddenly stopped, with James Vince running him out for 19.

Pakistan, restricted to intra-squad rather than tour matches, badly needed the in-touch Zaman to keep going.

However, his innings of 47, including six fours, ended tamely when a miscued cut off leg-spinner Matt Parkinson lobbed gently to backward point.

And when Mahmood had Faheem Ashraf caught behind, Pakistan were 101-7.

England debutant opener Phil Salt -- born in Wales but now with Sussex -- fell cheaply when he edged Shaheen Shah Afridi to first slip. 

But Malan made a run-a-ball fifty, with Crawley -- following a run of low scores at Test level -- even quicker to the landmark.