Pakistan survived a late order scare from Sri Lanka to pull off an exciting 11-run win in the first One-Day International in Sharjah, to go 1-0 up in the five-matchs series.
Pakistan's innings was built around a brilliant 122 from Mohammad Hafeez, which saw them post an impressive total of 322-5 in their 50 overs, but were made to work hard for their win, finally bowling Sri Lanka out in 49.4 overs on Wednesday night.
Besides Hafeez's 122, Sohaib Maqsood (73) and debutant opener Sharjeel Khan (61) were the main contributors on a flat pitch.
Sri Lanka had all but lost the match at 221-7 but Sachithra Senanayake (42) and Seekkuge Prasanna (42) gave Pakistan a scare during their 87-run partnership for the eighth wicket -- a record for Pakistan-Sri Lanka one-day internationals.
Sri Lanka needed 27 off the last two overs but both the batsmen were out in quick succession.
Sri Lanka got off to a solid start with Tillakaratne Dilshan (30) and Kusal Perera (64) batting quite comfortably against the spin-cum pace Pakistan attack.
Dilshan pulled a short Junaid Khan delivery straight to deep square-leg before Kumar Sangakkara (23) and Perera added 47 for the second wicket.
Perera, who hit five boundaries and a six off 68 balls, also holed out off Hafeez before leg-spinner Shahid Afridi then struck twice, dismissing Sangakkara and Lahiru Thirimanne (10) in quick succession.
Dinesh Chandimal hit a 50-ball 46 while Mathews made 31 off 32 balls during a resolute 73-run stand for the fifth wicket before the tail wagged.
Paceman Junaid finished with 3-44.
Earlier, Hafeez smashed 122 off 129 balls in a power-packed Pakistan batting performance after they won the toss.
Hafeez, whose place was in danger over poor form after only 147 runs in the last eight one-dayers, hit seven boundaries and four sixes in his seventh one-day hundred.
He hoisted paceman Suranga Lakmal over long-on for a six to reach the three-figure mark.
Hafeez added 140 for the third wicket with Maqsood and 83 for the second wicket with Sharjeel to give Pakistan a good platform.
Maqsood was run-out after hitting four sixes and two boundaries during an entertaining 68-ball knock.
Afridi, promoted to fifth in the batting order, produced a fiery 12-ball knock of 34 studded with three sixes and two boundaries as Pakistan mustered 103 in the last ten overs.
Hafeez and Sharjeel raised the scoring rate, with the opener hitting two sixes and a four off paceman Thisara Perera in the 13th over and then hit spinner Sachitra Senanayake for a boundary towards long-off to bring up his half-century off 46 balls.
Dropped on 56 by Thisara off Seekkuge Prasanna, Sharjeel failed to benfit from the lapse, holing out off the same bowler five runs later.
Lakmal finished with the best bowling figures of 2-73. The second match will be played in Dubai on Friday followed by the third in Sharjah on Sunday and the last two in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday and Friday.
Sharjeel Khan c Senanayake b Prasanna 61
Ahmed Shehzad lbw b Lakmal 11
Mohammad Hafeez c Chandimal b Lakmal 122
Sohaib Maqsood run out 73
Shahid Afridi b Thisara 34
Umar Akmal not out 9
Bilawal Bhatti not out 1
Extras: (LB-4, W-7) 11
Total: (for five wkts in 50 overs) 322
Fall of wickets: 1-35, 2-118, 3-258, 4-301, 5-320
Bowling: Lakmal 10-0-73-2, Malinga 10-1-59-0, Senanayake 9-1-46-0, Thisara 6-0-53-1, Mathews 5-0-29-0, Prasanna 8-0-39-1, Dilshan 2-0-19-0.
K Perera lbw Hafeez 64
T Dilshan c Hafeez b Junaid 30
K Sangakkara c Akmal b Afridi 23
D Chandimal run out 46
L Thirimanne c Maqsood b Afridi 10
A Mathews c Tanvir b Junaid 31
T Perera c Misbah b Bhatti 6
S Prasanna c Sharjeel b Junaid 42
S Senanayake c sb (Ali) b Tanvir 42
L Malinga run out 0
S Lakmal not out 1
Extras: (b8, lb4, w4) 16
Total: (all out; 49.4 overs) 311
Fall of wickets: 1-66 (Dilshan), 2-113 (Perera), 3-127 (Sangakkara), 4-141 (Thirimanne), 5-214 (Chandimal), 6-216 (Mathews), 7-221 (Thisara), 8-308 (Senanayake), 9-310 (Malinga)
Bowling: Hafeez 10-0-52-1, Tanvir 10-0-69-1 (1w), Junaid 5.4-0-44-3, Ajmal 10-0-48-0, Afridi 7-0-30-2, Bhatti 7-0-56-1 (2w)
Result: Pakistan won by 11 runs
Umpires: Joe Cloete (RSA) and Shozab Raza (PAK)
TV umpire: Richard Illingworth (ENG)
Match referee: David Boon (AUS) y.
Image: Mohammad Hafeez celebrates after reaching his century during the first One-Day International match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
Photograph: Francois Nel/Getty Images