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November 5, 2009

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Afridi stars in Pakistan's big victory

ALLROUNDER Shahid Afridi smashed a rapid 70 and took two wickets for Pakistan which eased to a 138-run victory over New Zealand in the first one-day international in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.

"(Afridi) is a fantastic performer," Pakistan captain Younus Khan told reporters.

"The last couple of years he worked well with the bowling but now his batting is there so it's good for Pakistan," he said.

Pakistan, which won the toss and opted to bat first, recovered from an awful start to pile up 287 for nine.

Fast bowler Shane Bond dismissed opener Salman Butt and Younus without a run on the board before Mohammad Yousuf, who was dropped on 12, and Khalid Latif steadied the innings with a stand of 57.

Yousuf was run out for 30 but after Umar Akmal was dismissed for nine, Latif (64) and Afridi added 101 for the fifth wicket.

After Afridi departed Kamran Akmal chipped in with an unbeaten 67, including four sixes, to lead Pakistan to an imposing total.

New Zealand opener Brendan McCullum was dropped twice before fast bowler Umar Gul bowled him for 21 and Gul struck again moments later dismissing Martin Guptill for four.

Ross Taylor and Scott Styris also fell cheaply to leave New Zealand struggling on 50 for four. Aaron Redmond (52) and Daniel Vettori (38) added 69 for the fifth wicket but their hopes of victory were quickly extinguished when Afridi took two wickets in two balls and with the tailenders offering little resistance, New Zealand crumbled to 149 all out.

Captain Vettori said the total was too much to chase.

"We were on course to restrict them to 220-230 but Afridi and Akmal were fantastic," Vettori said. "They took the game from us.

"After losing early wickets it was always going to be difficult. We thought if we could keep the target to 100 from the last 10 overs we could get there with the help of batting powerplay."

The second game in the three-match series is also in Abu Dhabi tomorrow. The series is being played at neutral venues. The test series will be played in New Zealand from November 24 but designated 'home' tests for Pakistan.


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