Younis praises Afridi after big win
Pakistan's captain Younis Khan has applauded Shahid Afridi for his Man-of-the-Match effort in the team's comprehensive victory over New Zealand in the first ODI in Abu Dhabi. Afridi blasted 70 from 50 balls to help set up Pakistan's 287 for 9 and then grabbed two wickets, including the key dismissal of Daniel Vettori, from consecutive balls in New Zealand's chase.
"He [Afridi] is a fantastic performer," Younis said after the match. "The last couple of years he worked well with the bowling but now his batting is there so it's good for Pakistan.
"It was a complete professional performance led by the fantastic Afridi and [Kamran] Akmal. They changed the game after we were in trouble in the first ten overs."
There wasn't much for New Zealand to celebrate in a match where they had Pakistan 0 for 2 but allowed a recovery and leaked 107 runs in the final ten overs. In reply, only three of New Zealand's batsmen reached double figures and but for a 69-run stand between Vettori and Aaron Redmond, the result could have been even worse than the 138-run defeat.
"We were on our way to restrict them to 220-230," Vettori said. "But Afridi and Akmal batted very well and we strayed in the last 12 to 15 overs and in the batting Powerplay."
The win gives Pakistan an early lead in the three-match ODI series in Abu Dhabi before the sides head to Dubai for two Twenty20 internationals. Younis said it continued to be disappointing his team could not host matches in their own country.
"Although we have a lot of supporters in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, we still need to play some games in Pakistan," Younis said. "I hope that we'll soon play again in Pakistan."