Georgetown: Allrounder Shahid Afridi returned to international cricket with a blistering half century and a career-best 7 for 12 as Pakistan recorded a thumping 126-run victory over West Indies in the first one-day international on Sunday.
Afridi, recalled after missing last month's Champions Trophy due to poor form, scored 76 off 55 balls to pilot Pakistan to 224 for 9. Afridi then skittled West Indies out for 98 in 41 overs to record the second-best ever bowling figures in one-day internationals after Sri Lanka's Chamina Vaas' 8 for 19 against Zimbabwe in 2001.
It was also West Indies lowest ever ODI total against Pakistan.
West Indies had Pakistan on the mat at 47 for 5 before Afridi and captain Misbah-ul-Haq (52) featured in a 120-run stand against some inconsistent bowling which saw the home team bowling 23 wide balls. The partnership was sixth-wicket record for Pakistan against the West Indies in ODIs.
"It was the most difficult pitch on which I have ever played," Misbah said.
"The ball was seaming and stopping, but it was Afridi's day, the way he batted and bowled."
West Indies never looked to threaten Pakistan's total from the onset once 7-foot-1-inch fast bowler Mohammad Irfan clean bowled Johnson Charles with a low full toss and had Darren Bravo caught behind down the legside. Chris Gayle, who wanted to make his 250th ODI appearance a memorable one, was run out in a mix-up with Marlon Samuels for just one run as West Indies slumped to 7 for 3 in five overs. Lendl Simmons and Samuels batted at a snail's pace before Afridi started the slide in the 23rd over.
Afridi had Simmons stumped and trapped captain Dwayne Bravo leg before wicket off the next delivery. He went on to claim the wickets of Kieron Pollard, Samuels and Kemar Roach in his opening spell of eight overs before he returned to finish off the innings by claiming the last two wickets of Sunil Narine and Holder.
"Wow, wow, wow, what a pitch it was for me to bowl on. I just try to keep it simple, sometimes I get good turn off the pitch and if I don't get turn I try to bowl straight ones for leg before wicket decisions," Afridi said after the match.
"I try hard and I back myself and I want to thank people back home. It's not time for me to just survive in the team, but to give a lot to the team."
Of his explosive knock earlier in the day Afridi said, "I tried to stay positive. I knew Misbah was at the other end. I knew he would stay till the end, it gave me the confidence to go after it."
There was another milestone for Afridi in the match as he reached 350 wickets in ODIs to become the third Pakistani to achieve the feat after Wasim Akram (502) and Waqar Younis (416). The second ODI of the five-match series will be played at the same venue on Tuesday.
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