Babar Azam scored an impressive hundred while Shoaib Malik smashed a quickfire half-century to help Pakistan thump Sri Lanka by 83 runs in the first one-day international in Dubai on Friday.
Azam compiled a well-made 103 from 131 deliveries, while Malik's 81 came off only 61 balls in Pakistan's total of 292-6, before pacemen Hasan Ali (3-36) and Rumman Raees (3-49) restricted Sri Lanka to 209-8 from their 50 overs.
The victory was a good response by Pakistan after losing the preceding two-match Test series 2-0, in their first ODI since winning the Champions Trophy in England four months ago.
Lahiru Thirimanne was the only Sri Lankan top-order batsman who played with any authority for his 53 as Pakistan took regular wickets to take a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Akila Dananjaya (50 not out) and Jeffrey Vandersay (25) delayed the result as they took Sri Lanka from 132-7 to 200-8 during their 68-run eighth-wicket stand but it was too little, too late.
Left-armer Raees broke a quick 30-run opening partnership as he removed Niroshan Dickwella (19) and Dinesh Chandimal in successive overs, while Mohammad Hafeez dismissed captain Upul Tharanga for 18.
Medium pacer Ali had two wickets off two balls as he dislodged Kusal Mendis and Milinda Siriwardana to leave Sri Lanka struggling at 67-5.
Raees returned for his second spell to trap Thirimanne leg before to end Sri Lanka's hopes of a successful chase.
Thirimanne hit three boundaries in his 74-ball stay.
Pakistan, sent into bat, owed their total to Azam and Malik, who added 139 for the fourth wicket. Malik holed out in the 47th over after smashing five fours and two sixes.
Azam's hundred came off 128 balls in the next over with a single, but three runs later he miscued a drive off paceman Suranga Lakmal, who finished with 2-47 from his ten overs.
Azam, who hit only five boundaries, had managed a poor 38 runs in the preceding 2-0 Test-series defeat but batted with guts to prove his credentials as a limited-overs batsman.
Pakistan plundered 89 in the last ten overs.
The nominal hosts got off to a poor start when opener Ahmed Shehzad fell for a 12-ball duck, caught off Lahiru Gamage in the fourth over of the innings.
Fakhar Zaman and Azam took the total to 75 before Akila Dananjaya bowled the opener with a googly. The left-handed Zaman played well during his 45-ball 42 though, hitting four fours and a six.
The remaining matches will be played in Abu Dhabi (October 16 and 18) and Sharjah (October 20 and 23).
Fakhar Zaman b Dananjaya 43
Ahmed Shehzad c Dananjaya b Gamage 0
Babar Azam c K. Mendis b Lakmal 103
Mohammad Hafeez c T. Perera b Vandersay 32
Shoaib Malik c Dananjaya b Lakmal 81
Sarfraz Ahmed c Tharanga b T. Perera 1
Imad Wasim not out 10
Hasan Ali not out 11
Extras (lb-2 w-9) 11
Total (for 6 wickets, 50 overs) 292
Fall of wickets: 1-11 A. Shehzad,2-75 F. Zaman,3-124 M. Hafeez,4-263 S. Malik,5-266 S. Ahmed,6-269 B. Azam
Did not bat: S. Khan, R. Raees, J. Khan
Suranga Lakmal 10 - 0 - 47 - 2(w-3)
Lahiru Gamage 8 - 0 - 49 - 1(w-2)
Akila Dananjaya 8 - 0 - 51 - 1(w-2)
Thisara Perera 8 - 0 - 68 - 1(w-1)
Jeffrey Vandersay 10 - 0 - 47 - 1
Milinda Siriwardana 6 - 0 - 28 - 0
Sri Lanka Innings
Niroshan Dickwella c S. Ahmed b Raees 19
Upul Tharanga b Hafeez 18
Dinesh Chandimal lbw b Raees 4
Lahiru Thirimanne lbw b Raees 53
Kusal Mendis c S. Ahmed b H. Ali 2
Milinda Siriwardana b H. Ali 0
Thisara Perera c sub b S. Khan 21
Akila Dananjaya not out 50
Jeffrey Vandersay c S. Ahmed b H. Ali 25
Suranga Lakmal not out 7
Extras (b-1 lb-3 w-6) 10
Total (for 8 wickets, 50 overs) 209
Fall of wickets: 1-30 N. Dickwella,2-34 D. Chandimal,3-55 U. Tharanga,4-67 K. Mendis,5-67 M. Siriwardana,6-108 T. Perera,7-132 L. Thirimanne,8-200 J. Vandersay
Did not bat: L. Gamage
Junaid Khan 6 - 0 - 28 - 0(w-1)
Rumman Raees 9 - 1 - 49 - 3
Mohammad Hafeez 10 - 2 - 32 - 1
Hasan Ali 9 - 0 - 36 - 3(w-3)
Shoaib Malik 5 - 0 - 19 - 0
Shadab Khan 7 - 0 - 26 - 1(w-2)
Imad Wasim 4 - 0 - 15 - 0
Pakistan hope to overcome Sri Lanka in change of format
The Pakistan cricket team is counting on a change in format and players to overcome a resurgent Sri Lanka in the five-match one-day series starting in Dubai from Friday.
The green shirts were upset 2-0 in the preceding Test series but they are now hoping to change their fortunes and carry the limited over form which helped them win the eight-nation Champions Trophy held in England in June this year.
The side only have skipper Sarfraz Ahmed, batsmen Haris Sohail and Babar Azam and fast bowler Hasan Ali from the Test series, while experienced all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez and opener Ahmed Shahzad amongst the 11 who joined the squad.
Ahmed feels the pressure of losing his first Test series but promised a better performance in the limited over matches. “Obviously, when you have a first Test series as captain, and you lose it, pressure will be there,” said Ahmed who played a match winning 61 not out against Sri Lanka in the Champions Trophy group match.
“But we will try and get out of that. Our one-day team is balanced and our record is very good. We will have some senior players returning and I hope we'll play better cricket,” he added.
Pakistan also have a young crop of fast emerging players in opener Fakhar Zaman — who hit a century in the Champions Trophy final against India — leg-spinner Shadab Khan, all-rounders Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf, and pacers Rumman Raees, Junaid Khan and Usman Shinwari.
Spearhead Mohammad Amir was ruled out of the series with a shin injury sustained in the second Test in Dubai. Pakistan's loss in the Test series was their first in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 10 attempts since they were forced to play at a neutral venue amidst security fears sparked after 2009 terrorists' attacks on the Sri Lankan team bus in Lahore.
But their one-day record in the UAE has been abysmal, having lost nine of the 12 series since 2009, only winning twice against Sri Lanka and once against the West Indies.
Sri Lanka have come from wretched one-day form, having lost 16 of their last 21 games, winning four with one no result. That included a 5-0 whitewash against South Africa and India and first-ever series defeat against minnows Zimbabwe.
That defeat against India last month put pressure on skipper Upul Tharanga. “We lacked consistency. We didn't bat, bowl or field well. We were outplayed by India. I am disappointed with our batting effort,” said Tharanga whose team failed to reach 250 in any of the matches.
The remaining matches are in Abu Dhabi (October, 16 and 18) and Sharjah (October, 20 and 23). Three Twenty20 matches will follow the ODIs, two in Abu Dhabi (October, 26 and 27) and the last in Lahore (October 29).
Teams: Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (capt), Ahmed Shehzad, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Imad Wasim, Shahdab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Hasan Ali, Usman Shinwari, Ruman Raees, Junaid Khan, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq
Sri Lanka: Upul Tharanga (capt), Dinesh Chandimal, Niroshan Dickwella,Lahiru Thirimanne, Kusal Mendis, Milinda Siriwardana, Chamara Kapugedara, Thisara Perera, Seekuge Prasanna, Nuwan Pradeep, Suranga Lakmal, Dushmantha Chameera, Vishwa Fernando, Akila Dananjaya, Jeffrey Vandersay