Fast bowler Naseem Shah took five wickets as Pakistan cruised to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the first one-day international on Monday.
Naseem, aged 19, snapped up 5-57 as New Zealand was made to bat first and was restricted to 255-9.
Mohammad Rizwan, who was rested for the preceding drawn two-test series, top-scored with an unbeaten 77 off 86 balls and eased Pakistan to 258-4 in 48.1 overs.
“You enjoy your performance more when you win the match,” Naseem said. “The pitch was good for batting and initially there wasn’t much assistance for the bowlers but the (old) ball started to reverse.”
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam made 66 off 82 balls and continued his red-hot form in white-ball cricket with his 19th ODI fifty. Opener Fakhar Zaman also made a fine 56 in his comeback match from a knee injury.
New Zealand batters couldn’t convert good starts on a slow pitch against disciplined bowling by debutant legspinner Usama Mir (2-42) and Mohammad Nawaz (1-38) in the middle overs.
Naseem dismissed opener Devon Conway for a first-over duck off a full-pitched delivery as the left-hander tried to flick the fast bowler but the ball ricocheted off his back leg onto his stumps.
Hard-hitting Finn Allen (29) successfully overturned a lbw decision against him in Haris Rauf’s first over. Allen hit Naseem for two boundaries in an over and smashed Rauf for three boundaries in a row before falling to a spectacular Agha Salman diving catch at short extra cover.
Mir tied down New Zealand through his googlies and sharp legspin, and stunned Kane Williamson on 26 off a turning delivery which knocked back the off stump.
Tom Latham (42) and Daryl Mitchell (36) rebuilt the innings with a half-century stand before falling to Mir and Nawaz respectively. New Zealand slipped to 147-5 in the 32nd over.
“We just didn’t quite do things for long enough with the bat,” Latham said. “Whenever we threatened for a big partnership, we lost a wicket . . . if we’re able to close to that 300 mark, then maybe things would have been different.”
Michael Bracewell, who top-scored with 43 off 42 balls, and Glenn Phillips (37) also had good starts before Naseem returned and picked up four wickets in his return spell.
Naseem was on a hat trick after he clean bowled Bracewell and debutant Henry Shipley, but Tim Southee denied the pacer.
Mitchell Santner made a brisk 21 and Southee contributed 15 to get New Zealand past 250 runs.
Babar featured in two half-century stands with Zaman and Rizwan after offspinner Bracewell (2-44) dismissed Imam-ul-Haq (11) early in Pakistan’s chase.
Latham dropped a tough edge by Zaman before the left-hander’s 15th half-century. Zaman was clean bowled soon after while going for a slog sweep against Bracewell.
Babar also survived two close lbws against the spinners. Latham stumped him off part-time spinner Phillips.
Rizwan kept his cool and batted with cramps in the latter half of the run chase. Salman, 13 not out, hit the winning runs with a straight six against Southee.
The second ODI is on Wednesday followed by the last match on Friday.