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Pakistan's Fakhar Zaman celebrates after completing his century in the first One-Day International against New Zealand on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Rawalpindi: Pakistan opener Fakhar Zaman’s ninth hundred in One Day Internationals trumped Daryl Mitchell’s breezy century to set up the home side’s five-wicket victory over New Zealand in Thursday’s series opener in Rawalpindi.

New Zealand posted 288-7 with Mitchell smashing 113 of 115 balls and forging a century-plus stand with Will Young (86).

Stay long after surving new ball

Naseem Shah was the pick of Pakistan’s bowlers, conceding only 29 runs in 10 overs and claiming two wickets with the last two balls of the New Zealand innings.

Pakistan’s Fakhar (117) and Imam-ul-Haq (60) combined in a strong opening stand of 124 and skipper Babar Azam contributed 49. Mohammad Rizwan remained not out on 42 as Pakistan reached the target with nine balls to go.

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Fakhar Zaman carried the team almost to the finishline with a knock of 117 against New Zealand in Rawalpindi. Image Credit: AFP

“The plan was to attack and stay long,” said Fakhar, who was named Player of the Match.

“If you survive the new ball, you must stay (till the end).”

The idea was to have at least one of the top three batters to bat deep, he said.

“Today was my day and hopefully, Imam and Babar will also play big knocks.”

Par score

Mitchell said New Zealand managed a “par score” batting first on a low wicket.

“Pakistan have got some world-class bowlers and they showed that at the end there with their death bowling,” he told reporters.

“Fakhar was dangerous, he took the game on at times, took some risks and he obviously got the rewards for that.”

The left-hander smashed 13 boundaries and a six in his 117 made off 114 balls as Pakistan chased down a target of 289 in 48.3 overs.

The victory gives Pakistan a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.

Home team stutter

It was Zaman who carried the day for the home team, bringing Pakistan within 34 runs of victory before being finally caught off a miscued shot.

Once Haq, who hit five boundaries and a six in his 15th ODI fifty, was removed leg-before by spinner Ish Sodhi, Pakistan were carried further towards the target by a 90-run stand between Zaman and skipper Babar Azam.

Azam fell one short of a half century when he edged pacer Adam Milne behind the stumps to Tom Latham. He hit three fours and a six off 46 balls.

Pakistan stuttered when Shan Masood fell for a miserable 12-ball one and Agha Salman for seven but Mohammad Rizwan ensured the opportunity was not wasted by hitting the winning boundary. The victory also gave Pakistan their 500th win in ODIs, becoming only the third team after Australia and India.

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Daryl Mitchell scored his career highest knock against Pakistan in the first ODI. Image Credit: AFP

Earlier, Mitchell smashed his highest ODI score to anchor New Zealand’s innings after they were sent in to bat.

Mitchell, who hit 11 fours and a six, added 102 for the second wicket with opener Young who played an attractive 78-ball knock.

Mitchell finally holed out at deep midwicket off fast bowler Shaheen Shah Afridi in the 47th over, improving on his previous best of 100 not out against Bangladesh in 2021.

Solid stand

Young hit eight boundaries and two sixes before being caught off spinner Shadab Khan at long-off.

Mitchell, dropped on 23 by Salman off his own bowling, then boosted New Zealand’s innings with a solid stand of 72 with Latham (20).

But against some tight bowling, the visitors managed just 66 in the last ten overs.

Mark Chapman, who starred for New Zealand in the preceding five-match Twenty20 series which ended 2-2, was bowled by pacer Haris Rauf after scoring 15.

For Pakistan, Naseem Shah had figures of 2-29, Shaheen 2-63 and Rauf 2-65.

The remaining matches are in Rawalpindi on Saturday and in Karachi on May 3, 5 and 7.