Eng vs Pak, 1st ODI: Azhar Ali leads from front as England restrict Pakistan for 260/6

In a rain-interrupted innings, Sarfraz Ahmed (55) was the only other batsman to make a fifty.

Eng vs Pak, 1st ODI: Azhar Ali leads from front as England restrict Pakistan for 260/6

London: Pakistan captain Azhar Ali led from the front with 82 before England fought back to hold the tourists to 260 for six in the first one-day international at Southampton on Wednesday.

In a rain-interrupted innings, Sarfraz Ahmed (55) was the only other batsman to make a fifty and Pakistan`s plight in this day/night clash would have been worse had Azhar not twice been dropped on nine.

Azhar won the toss in the first of this five-match series and elected to bat in what was then bright sunshine.

Sharjeel Khan, carrying on from his blistering 152 in last week`s 255-run win over Ireland, struck three fours in 15 balls.

But the left-handed opener fell for 16 when he top-edged a pull off fast bowler Mark Wood and was caught behind by Jos Buttler.

England, whose fielding had proved fallible during a recent 2-2 drawn Test series against Pakistan, then twice dropped Azhar.

He was put down in the gully by Alex Hales off Wood, playing his first match for England since a Test against Pakistan in Dubai in October following persistent ankle problems.

Azhar was still on nine when he glanced fast bowler Liam Plunkett and a diving Buttler dropped the difficult left-handed chance.

England captain Eoin Morgan decided to bring part-time spinner Joe Root on ahead of specialist slow bowlers Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.

He was rewarded when Mohammad Hafeez (11) swept a Root off-break straight to Hales at deep backward square leg.

Azhar and Babar Aslam (40) rebuilt the innings with a third-wicket stand of 61.

But Babar, who faced just 42 balls, was unlucky when given out lbw to leg-spinner Rashid by Australian umpire Simon Fry, even though replays clearly showed an inside edge.

However, as Sharjeel had wasted Pakistan`s lone review of the innings, Babar had to go and Pakistan were now 113 for three off 24 overs.

Azhar pressed on to a relatively sedate 84-ball fifty, including four fours.

He then upped the tempo by sweeping Rashid to the boundary.

Azhar and Ahmed shared a fifty partnership in 56 balls before the skipper clouted Plunkett through mid-off for a well-struck boundary.

Ahmed took up the charge, advancing down the pitch to drive Wood.

The wicket-keeper went on to make a 52-ball fifty.

Pakistan were 173 for for three off 35 overs and on course for a big total.

But soon afterwards Azhar top-edged a slog-sweep off Rashid to Moeen Ali at short third man to end a 110-ball innings featuring nine fours.

The tourists` progress was checked again by a brief rain break which stopped play with Pakistan 218 for four off 42.1 overs.

After the resumption both Shoaib Malik and Ahmed were caught driving to mid-off as they tried to force the pace.

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