Saqib Mahmood (L) celebrates taking the wicket of Saud Shakeel (R) during the first ODI match at Sophia Gardens stadium in Cardiff on Thursday. AFP
Saqib Mahmood marked his return to England duty with a One-Day International (ODI) best of 4-42 as the hosts put their COVID-19 problems behind them to dismiss Pakistan for a meagre 141 in Thursday's series opener in Cardiff.
The 24-year-old Lancashire fast bowler, in just his fifth match at this level and first in nearly a year, took two wickets in three balls in the first to leave Pakistan reeling after England stand-in captain Ben Stokes won the toss.
Only opening batsman Fakhar Zaman, with 47, and Shadab Khan (30) offered much resistance in the first of this three-match series. And when World Cup-winner Stokes caught Shaheen Shah Afridi to end the innings, Pakistan had more than 14 overs left to bat.
Such was England's command that Stokes, despite being the most experienced member of the attack, bowled just the one over. England were fielding an entirely new XI, including five debutants, after a coronavirus outbreak within their existing squad during a recent 2-0 series win at home to Sri Lanka meant all 16 players originally selected to play against Pakistan were forced to self-isolate.
In addition, England were also missing fast bowlers Jofra Archer and Olly Stone and wicketkeeper-batsman Jos Buttler through injury. But they still made a sensational start when Mahmood had Imam-ul-Haq lbw with the first ball of the match after a review ordered by Stokes confirmed the delivery had pitched in line.
Two balls later, Mahmood had a prize wicket when Pakistan captain Babar Azam — the world's top-ranked ODI batsman -- also fell for a duck after edging to Zak Crawley at second slip, with Pakistan yet to score a run.
Mohammad Rizwan had made 13 when he edged a superb, late-moving, delivery from Lewis Gregory to debutant wicketkeeper John Simpson. And when Mahmood had Pakistan debutant Saud Shakeel lbw for five, the tourists were 26-4 from seven overs
But Zaman, on a ground where he had made a fifty in Pakistan's 2017 Champions Trophy semi-final win over England, counter-attacked. New batsman Sohaib Maqsood, playing 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, set 248 to win in a match reduced by rain to 47 overs per side, were dismissed for 195. Lewis Gregory took 3-44 after making a valuable 40 in England’s 247.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam’s stunning knock of 158 was in vain as England’s second string side completed a record run (332) chase at Edgbaston to win by three wickets and clinch the three-match One-day International series 3-0.
The cricket fans must show proof of either full vaccination or a negative PCR test before entering the stadium. The England and Wales Cricket Board on Saturday announced a 16-member squad for the ODI series against Pakistan. The ODI series will begin on July 8 at Cardiff.
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