England’s Zak Crawley (L) and Pakistan’s Shaheen Shah Afridi touch gloves at close of play during the first One Day International cricket match between England and Pakistan at Sophia Gardens stadium in Cardiff, Wales on July 8, 2021. — AFP

CARDIFF: Saqib Mahmood’s four-wicket haul helped a new look England cruise to 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.

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.

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