England bowler Saqib Mahmood appeals after taking the wicket of Shakeel which is given out after a review during the first Royal London Series One Day International between England and Pakistan at Sophia Gardens on July 08, 2021 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
By Chandrashekar Bhat
AN ENTIRELY changed England side hammered Pakistan by nine wickets in the first one-day international at Cardiff on Thursday (8) to take a 1-0 lead in a three-match series.
Set just 142 for victory, a completely altered England team after a coronavirus outbreak within the originally selected squad, finished on 142-1 with more than 28 overs remaining.
Dawid Malan (68, not out) and Zak Crawley (58, not out) shared an unbroken stand of 120.
Earlier, Saqib Mahmood marked his return to England duty with his one-day international best of 4-42 as the hosts dismissed Pakistan for a meagre 141.
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 over 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 some resistance.
When 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 one over.
England fielded an entirely new team, including five debutants, after a coronavirus outbreak within their squad 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 leg before wicket 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 out 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 and brought some respectability to the score.