Mohammad Rizwan (77*), Babar Azam (66) and Fakhar Zaman (56) scored half-centuries while Naseem Shah took a five-wicket haul to help Pakistan register a comfortable six-wicket win over New Zealand in the Karachi ODI. The hosts chased down the target of 256 with 11 balls to spare.
On a track that was on the slower side, the home side began on a positive note with Imam-ul-Haq and Mohammad Rizwan sharing an association of 30 in just under six overs. However, against the run of play, Imam fell to Michael Bracewell, spooning a simple catch to the fieler stationed at mid-on. At that juncture, Fakhar Zaman took on New Zealand’s fastest bowler Lockie Ferguson with the drive, flick and cut while Babar Azam pulled and slog-swept Mitchell Santner to ensure Pakistan wouldn’t lose momentum.
In an attempt to break the stand, New Zealand took a review for an LBW against Babar in the 17th over but the impact turned out to be outside off. Incidentally, in the previous over bowled by Santner, Babar had got an LBW decision reversed, with the ball-tracker projecting the ball to miss leg-stump. Ultimately, in the 23rd over, New Zealand broke the threatening stand with Bracewell castling Fakhar.
Rizwan, who replaced Fakhar at the crease, combined quick running between the wickets with the occasional drive and flick as the home team continued to keep the required run-rate in check. At the other end, Babar duly completed his fifty with a double off Santner. Just when it felt as if Pakistan were on course to chase down the target, Babar chipped down the track, only for Glenn Phillips to fire the ball down the leg-side and Latham to complete the stumping.
Despite losing his batting partner and captain, Rizwan played with a degree of maturity and found an able ally in Haris Sohail, with the duo sharing a 64-run stand. The pair brought out the reverse sweep and also played through the line of the ball to collect boundaries. Ultimately, Southee removed Haris for a quick-fire 23-ball 32 but with just 24 runs required of five overs, the result of the match seemed more like a foregone conclusion. Agha Salman, who joined forces with Rizwan, duly provided the finishing touches by tonking Southee over long-on for a six.
The foundation stone for Pakistan’s win was laid out by Naseem, who returned impressive figures of 5 for 57. Usama Mir, making his international debut, also played his part by picking up a couple of wickets. Pakistan had started on the right note when Naseem castled Devon Conway. For a while, Allen put the pressure back on the opposition with a volley of shots before falling to Wasim jnr in the eighth over.
Just when Kane Williamson and Daryl Mitchell seemed to be charting recovery, Pakistan again struck with Usama bowling a peach that pitched around leg and turned appreciably to clean up Williamson. Tom Latham, who replaced the New Zealand skipper, then showcased his skills against spin by blending the occasional pull and reverse sweep with singles and twos. But Pakistan were able to find a breakthrough at the right time with Mitchell falling to Mohammad Nawaz. Usama followed it up by dismissing the set Latham for 42.
Glenn Phillips (37) and Miichael Bracewell (42-ball 43) then stitched a crucial alliance of 66 to prop up the visitors. Phillips was dismissed by Naseem’s back of a length delivery, with the middle order bat pulling the ball to the fielder stationed at mid-off. Naseem continued to make inroads as he removed both Bracewell and Henry Shipley in a single over. The pace bowler also took his fifth wicket of the game by dismissing Santner in the final over of the innings.