Whangarei: Afghanistan's five-wicket win over fellow South Asians Pakistan and New Zealand's eight-wicket thrashing of defending champions West Indies were the highlights of the opening day of the ICC U-19 Cricket World Cup on Saturday.
Opting to bat, Pakistan suffered early setbacks when Afghanistan captain Naveen-ul-Haq struck with the new ball to reduce the two-time champions to 23/2 in the Group D match here.
Opener Rohail Nazir and Ali Zaryab put together a third-wicket partnership of 88 runs in an attempt to bring the Pakistan innings back on track.
Nazir scored 81 runs off 105 balls while Zaryab notched up 30 off 58 deliveries. But once the duo were dismissed, the other Pakistan batsmen could not consolidate on the stand.
Medium pacer Azmatulllah Omarzai and spinner Qais Ahmad grabbed three wickets each as Afghanistan showed that they are capable of upsetting leading sides and the team to watch out for in Group D, which also contains Sri Lanka and Ireland.
"They bowled and batted really well. They outclassed us in every department, especially in the first innings. The pitch was pretty good to bat on but the way they bowled was tough for us," Pakistan captain Hassan Khan was quoted as saying by the International Cricket Council (ICC) after the match.
Meanwhile, in Tauranga, New Zealand started their campaign on a resounding note when they completely outclassed the defending champions in the opening match of Group A.
Top order batsman Finn Allen starred with an unbeaten 115 as the hosts overhauled the target of 234 runs with more than 10 overs to spare.
Asked to bat first, the West Indies produced 233/8 in their 50 overs. They were given a good start by openers Keagan Simmons and Kimani Melius, who added 123 runs between them.
Simmons remained unbeaten on 92 while Melius scored 78.
However, the defending champions were restricted by some tight bowling later on as legspinner Rachin Ravindra and pacer Matthew Fisher picked up three wickets each for the Kiwis.
Ravindra and Fisher had figures of 3/30 and 3/61 respectively while legspinner Felix Murray returned 2/37.
New Zealand coasted home in 39.3 overs with Jakob Bhula also notching up 83, leaving Windies captain Emmanuel Stewart disappointed.
"I thought the effort of the opening batsmen was not supplemented. I also thought we did not use the new ball well enough because we needed some early wickets," Stewart said.
In other matches on the day, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe also won their respective matches in Group C.
However, both the matches, which were held in Christchurch, were reduced to 20-over affairs due to rain.
Bangladesh defeated Namibia by 87 runs while Zimbabwe crushed Papua New Guinea by 10 wickets.
Pakistan 188 in 47.4 overs (Rohail Nazir 81, Ali Zaryab 30; Azmatullah Omarzai 3/34, Qais Ahmad 3/38, Naveen-ul-Haq 2/30) lost to Afghanistan (194/5 in 47.3 overs (Darwish Rasool 76 not out, Ikram Ali 46; Hassan Khan 2/45)
West Indies 233/8 in 50 overs (Keagan Simmons 92 not out, Kimani Melius 78; Rachin Ravindra 3/30, Matthew Fisher 3/61) lost to New Zealand 234/2 in 39.3 overs (Finn Allen 115 not out, Jakob Bhula 83).
Bangladesh 190/4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Saif Hassan 84, Naim Sheikh 60) beat Namibia 103/6 in 20 overs (Eben van Wyk 55 not out; Hasan Mahmud 2/12, Qazi Onik 2/14)
Papua New Guinea 95 in 20 overs (Igo Mahuru 26; Wesseley Madevere 3/19) lost to Zimbabwe: 98/0 in 14 overs (Wesseley Madevere 53 not out, Gregory Dollar 48 not out)