Centurion: African XI have won the opening one-day international of the Afro-Asian Cup cricket tournament against Asian Xi by just two runs. Put in to bat, the Africans were out for 198 in 44.3 overs by Asian XI, with the top order crumbling in the face of the Asian attack. But Ashwell Prince put up a stellar performance with an unbeaten 78. The rest of the African wickets kept falling at regular intervals, eventually reducing the African XI to 198. Zaheer Khan was the pick of the Asian bowlers, returning figures of 3 for 37. Wickets tumble But the African XI struck some quick blows to the Asian XI, picking up some crucial wickets. Shaun Pollock wrecked the Asian top order and from then on, it was a collapse for the Asians. In the end, it was left to the tail-enders, but despite a fighting performance by Zaheer Khan (20 not out) and Shoaib Akhtar (15), the visitors were bowled out, just two runs short of their target. This was the inaugural edition of the inter-continental event which was planned after the formation of the Afro-Asian Cricket Co-operation, with Asian Cricket Council chief Jagmohan Dalmiya as its first chairman, earlier this year. The Asian squad features players from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh while the African squad is a collection of players from South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya. South African bowler Shaun Pollock replaced compatriot Graeme Smith as African team skipper following the latter's ban for slow over rate. Smith is expected to return for the last match of the series. The event features three one-dayers with the second and third to be played at Durban on August 20 and 21. Teams: Africa XI: Shaun Pollock (captain), AB de Villiers, Boeta Dippenaar, Jacques Kallis, Justin Ontong, Ashwell Prince, Nicky Boje, Mark Boucher, Dale Steyn (South Africa); Steve Tikolo, Thomas Odoyo (Kenya). Asian XI: Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Shahid Afridi, Abdul Razzaq, Yousuf Youhana, Shoaib Akhtar (Pakistan); Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble, Zaheer Khan, Ashish Nehra (India); Kumar Sangakkara, Muttiah Muralitharan (Sri Lanka).
(With PTI inputs)