LAHORE: Travis Head capped a remarkable return to limited over cricket with a fiery century before taking two wickets to anchor Australia’s thumping 88-run victory over Pakistan in the first day-night international in Lahore on Tuesday.
Head’s 72-ball 101 guided Australia to a challenging 313-7 before the 28-year-old turned his arm over for 2-35 to bowl Pakistan out for 225 in 45.2 overs.
Leg-spinner Adam Zampa also starred with the ball, taking 4-38 in ten probing overs, also completing 100 wickets in 65th ODI.
The victory gives Australia a 1-0 lead in the three-match series, their tenth successive ODI win over Pakistan since January 2017.
Opener Imam-ul-Haq hit a fighting 96-ball 103 while skipper Babar Azam made a 72-ball 57 but with the asking rate hovering around 9.5 Australia were never in doubt of victory.
Haq hit six boundaries and three sixes in his eighth one-day international century but was bowled by paceman Nathan Ellis in the 39th over with 110 needed off 66 balls.
Haq added 96 with Azam for the second wicket after opener Fakhar Zaman fell for 18 and another 38 with Khushdil Shah (19) for the sixth wicket.
Azam, who hit six boundaries in his knock, became the second fastest batter to complete 4,000 ODI runs in 82 innings, one more than South African Hashim Amla’s record.
Azam was trapped leg-before wicket by Mitchell Swepson in the 25th over before Head dismissed Saud Shakil (three) and Iftikhar Ahmed (three) to further jolt Pakistan.
Zampa finished with the wickets of Mohammad Rizwan (ten), Hasan Ali (two), Mohammad Wasim (nought) and Khushdil.
Australian skipper Aaron Finch said the plan was to put a good total.
“We felt we needed 300 plus total and that was made easy by Travis scoring a hundred,” said Finch. “I am really proud of the way the guys played having no experience of these conditions.”
Azam said his dismissal was the turning point.
“We gave some extra runs,” said Azam. “I had a good partnership with Haq but when I felt we lost our grip and the chase became difficult.”
Earlier, Head knocked his second one-day international hundred and Ben McDermott hit a career-best 55 from 70 balls after Australia were sent in to bat by Pakistan at the Gaddafi Stadium.
Head, playing his first ODI since November 2018, cracked 12 boundaries and three sixes and put on 110 for the opening wicket with Finch who made 23.
Head took a single off spinner Iftikhar to reach three figures off 70 balls, the fastest ODI century by an Australian against Pakistan.
He beat David Warner’s record from 78 balls in Adelaide in 2017.
With the score at 209-2 in the 33rd over, Pakistan pulled back with three wickets for just 21 runs in the space of 39 balls, dismissing McDermott, Marnus Labuschagne (25) and Alex Carey (four).
Cameron Green (40 not out), Marcus Stoinis (26) and Sean Abbott (14) helped Australia score 50 in the last five overs and get past the 300-mark.
Green hit three boundaries and a six in his 30-ball knock.
For Pakistan, pacer Haris Rauf took 2-44 and debutant leg-spinner Zahid Mahmood finished with 2-59.
Australia, already missing key players such as Warner, Steve Smith, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc for multiple reasons, were further depleted after spinner Ashton Agar tested positive for Covid-19 on Tuesday.
The remaining two matches are on Thursday and Saturday, also in Lahore.