When Abid Ali nudged Nathan Lyon to square leg for a single, Rameez Raja on air announced the ‘arrival of a new star’ in Pakistan cricket. With that single, Abid Ali, the 31-year-old from Lahore entered an elite list of players. Abid became the 15th player overall but the third Pakistan player to score a century on ODI debut. Abid joined Saleem Elahi and Imam-ul-Haq as the other Pakistan players to have achieved this feat. However, despite his wonderful knock and a glorious second century from Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan suffered a dramatic collapse as they lost by six runs to Australia to trail the five-match series 4-0.
Saleem Elahi became the first Pakistan player to achieve the feat when he smashed a century in his debut ODI against Sri Lanka in Gujranwala in 1995. Sri Lanka had made 233/5 with Arjuna Ranatunga scoring a century and Asanka Gurusinha scoring 57. However, Elahi, along with a 77 from Aamer Sohail helped Pakistan secure a nine-wicket win. In 2017, 22 years after Elahi’s feat, Imam-ul-Haq entered the history books by slamming a debut ton against Sri Lanka in Abu Dhabi. Hasan Ali’s 5/34 restricted Sri Lanka to 208 all out and Imam-ul-Haq’s century gave Pakistan a seven-wicket win.
Abid Ali is the third player to hit a century on debut against Australia. Dennis Amiss of England scored 103 in the Manchester ODI of 1972 while West Indies’ Desmond Haynes smashed 148 in the Antigua ODI of 1978. Haynes’ score of 148 remains the highest individual score on debut in ODIs.
Pakistan were on course to break their ODI rut against Australia in the fourth ODI with Mohammad Rizwan and Abid Ali scoring centuries. However, a sensational collapse of five wickets for 45 runs and the mounting run-rate got Australia back in the contest and they won the Dubai ODI by six runs in Dubai to take a 4-0 lead in the five-match series. This was Australia’s seventh consecutive ODI win and they head into the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 as firm favourites. Australia’s total owed much to the batting of Glenn Maxwell but Pakistan will be ruing the fact that they once again buckled under pressure. Abid and Rizwan’s ton, combined with a 144-stand for the third wicket had given Pakistan hope but Australia held their nerve.