Hafeez hundred secures Pakistan victory
Pakistan 217 for 4 (Hafeez 101*, Azam 62*, Topley 3-26) beat England 216 (Morgan 76, Taylor 60, Irfan 3-35) by six wickets
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Mohammad Hafeez was a dominant figure during Pakistan's Test series victory against England and he was to the fore once more, striking an unbeaten century as they took the opening ODI in Abu Dhabi by six wickets with 6.2 overs to spare.
Much of the work had been done earlier by a strikingly disciplined and energetic display in the field by Pakistan, who limited England to 216, at least 40 runs under par, before Hafeez settled in on a sluggish, largely unresponsive surface to register his 11th one-day hundred.
It ensured the victory his side craved as a send-off for Younis Khan after his abrupt announcement on the morning of the match that he would retire from ODI cricket that same evening.
So Younis has his farewell victory. His final ODI innings - although in Pakistan cricket you never can tell - was a laboured affair - 9 in 18 balls before he came to grief with an ugly pull to mid-on. No matter: he got the bat waves to cheering spectators, the guard of honour from smiling team mates, and ultimately got the victory. Dropped during the World Cup, seemingly for good, he had felt entitled to a departure with all the trimmings and had somehow managed to contrive exactly that.
Upon his dismissal, at 41 for 3, the game remained in the balance, Reece Topley's heavily-inked left-arm, in his first overseas ODI, having found some inswing to claim all three wickets. They were an interesting trio, kicked off by the captain Azhar Ali and a failed pinch hitter in Bilal Asif, both of them falling lbw. It could have been worse for Younis - Topley almost got him lbw first ball only for Younis to get a bit of bat on it. After 264 ODIs he probably felt entitled to a bit of fortune.
Hafeez's methodical hundred - intelligently constructed strokeplay at the top of the order - at least gave some vague legitimacy to England's waste of a review when he was 16 by underlining the importance of his wicket. For all that, it was among the more optimistic lbw appeals ever reviewed, Hafeez having middled it, only for a second impact some time later persuading Chris Woakes into a spot of wishful thinking.
As for England's spinners, the story of the Test series remained embedded with 19 overs shared between Moeen Ali, Adil Rashid and Joe Root for 104 runs with only the wicket of Shoaib Malik, who flicked Moeen to midwicket, to show for it. But the spinners would have needed to be a wondrous bunch to build pressure with so few to defend. Hafeez could play much as he pleased. "It would be cruel to criticise the bowlers with only 216 on the board," Morgan said.
Babar Azam, who made his debut against Zimbabwe is his home city of Lahore earlier this year, also impressed with an unbeaten 62 in only his fourth ODI. His pull for six against David Willey was the final statement that for England there would be no way back. He might have been fortunate, however, to survive Topley's return when, at 145 for 4, the bowler might have won a fourth wicket via a feather down the leg side, only for the umpire, Johan Cloete, to indicate with a gentle tap that he imagined the ball had brushed the batsman's thigh. A storming catch earlier - a spring to his left at straight midwicket to intercept a Moeen Ali pull - added to a lustrous day.
England were purring along at 147 for 3, with Eoin Morgan and James Taylor having recovered an early collapse with a stand of 133 in 27 overs, but wickets then clattered for a second time against disciplined bowling and alert fielding. Morgan and Taylor made 136 runs between them; the rest of England's top 7 made 18.
Morgan could at least draw personal encouragement from his first appearance - the practice match against Hong Kong apart - since he was concussed by a blow on the head from the Australia quick Mitchell Starc at Old Trafford at the tail-end of the English season. Wearing additional protective flaps on his helmet, he looked in excellent order in making 76 from 96 before Malik found slight turn and he edged to the wicketkeeper.
Morgan did get off the mark in fortunate fashion when he pulled languidly at a ball from Mohammad Irfan and happily accepted the award of four runs off his forearm. Surprisingly, even on such a slow surface Azhar did not bring on Wahab Riaz earlier than planned with instructions to fire in a few short ones.
Taylor, too, could take satisfaction from the stand, but he was culpable in the run out of Jos Buttler, desperately hoping for a change of fortune, but out with a single to his name, forced him into a push-and-run single to midwicket, leaving the wicketkeeper with time to sweep up Azhar slick pick up and throw.
With a need to remedy his miscalculation, Taylor then fell for 60 when he chipped Malik to short midwicket. Taylor would have faltered even earlier than that had Pakistan not deliberated beyond the stipulated 15 seconds before unsuccessfully requesting a review for an lbw appeal by Malik which replays showed was hitting leg stump.
England's start was rocky: three wickets down for 14 with the innings only 3.1 overs old. Growing attention is being given to Jason Roy's crooked defensive technique, but it was also an excellent delivery from Irfan that seemed to beat him for pace and rattled his off stump. Joe Root logged England's second duck when he fell lbw to Anwar Ali - he spent England's review as well, in the mistaken belief that the ball was missing leg - and Alex Hales became Anwar's second wicket when Younis held a juggling catch at slip.
The confrontation between Irfan, at 7ft tall, and Taylor, around 18 inches shorter, was a photographic joy. Add the additional height of Irfan's arm and Taylor was receiving a delivery from more than three feet above his head. In Game of Thrones terms, it might not quite have been Tyrion Lannister vs Mag the Mighty, but it was not far short, and a near beamer from Irfan just added to the challenge.
When Taylor quickened towards his fifty with straight sixes against Asif and Malik in turn, England must have had hopes for 280, but those sixes were also an indication of England struggling to tick along quite as effectively as the ball aged. From that point - an expanse of 21.4 overs - they managed only one more boundary. Even that was a full toss from Yasir Shah which Woakes gratefully despatched on his way to an unbeaten 33 which merely sugared the pill.
David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps