Abu Dhabi: Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam through a dazzling century partnership and Shaheen Afridi’s deadly four-wicket spell helped Pakistan avenge their defeat to New Zealand in the first One day match of the three-match series and win the second match by six wickets at the Zayed Cricket Stadium.
Pakistan, by equaling the series, has set the stage for a Sunday thriller at the Dubai International stadium.
Zaman scored a run-a-ball 88 runs with 11 boundaries while Azam chipped in with an elegant 46 runs off 50 balls with five boundaries after restricting New Zealand to 209 for nine.
Zaman and Azam put on 101-run partnership in 16.1 overs to take the match away from New Zealand.
Ross Taylor’s unbeaten 86 off 120 balls with three boundaries and six for New Zealand went in vain.
Pakistan chasing New Zealand’s target began through Imam Ul Haq and Zaman. Imam hit first one-day match hero Trent Boult for a boundary by stepping out and hitting him over the cover.
Zaman too hit Boult for two consecutive boundaries in the ninth over. The pair put on 50 runs in 11.2 overs.
In the 13th over Lockie Ferguson hit Iman on the helmet when the score was on 54 forcing Imam (16) to retire. He had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance for scan.
Azam joined Zaman, who raced to his seventh ODI 50 in 58 balls. Pakistan reached the 100 run mark in the 20th over.
The pair recorded their 50-run partnership in 9.2 overs.
At the half way mark, Pakistan were 133 for no loss. Ferguson ended Zaman’s knock when he top edged a pull to Sodhi at mid-on. Ferguson also dismissed Azam for 46, whose upper cut was well taken by Henry Nicholls at third man.
Pakistan needed 54 runs in the next 21.1 overs then. Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malek took Pakistan within 33 runs of victory when Malek’s pull shot rebounded off Nicholls shoulder at short leg for Sodhi to complete the catch off Ferguson.
Sarfraz Ahmad lasted only 17 balls to score 13 runs but Hafeez, remaining unbeaten on 27 runs, steered Pakistan to the target with 57 balls to spare.
Earlier, New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat. Colin Munro hit Afridi for a six off the fifth ball of the second over long off but he fell to the very next ball attempting a similar shot getting caught by Mohammad Hafeez at wide mid-on for 13.
In the fourth over from Afridi, New Zealand lost their skipper Kane Williamson, who got run out for 1. A punch by opener George Worker graced Afridi’s finger and hit the non-striker’s wicket with Williamson out of the crease.
Ross Taylor, who top scored with 80 runs in New Zealand’s win in the first One-dayer, joined Worker.
Worker played some lovely shots using his feet especially to hit Hasan Ali for two boundaries in the eighth over. Taylor began to time his shots beautifully and pick the gaps. After the first ten over New Zealand were 55 for 2.
In the 15th over Hafeez provided the breakthrough after the pair put on 46 runs in 11.1 overs. Hafeez clean bowled Worker with the ball brushing his pads and hitting the stumps f or 28. Next man Latham got brilliantly yorked by Afridi, who produced a wicket-maiden 16th over.
Henry Nicholls joined Taylor steadied the innings but quick wickets checked the run flow. At the half way mark, New Zealand were 97 for 4.
Taylor kept the scoreboard moving, not through big shots, but through singles and twos. Nicholls on 20 escaped being caught by captain and wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmad as his edge went between his legs off Imad Wasim. New Zealand were 118 for 4 then. Taylor reached his 43rd half century in 83 balls and second one in succession. Hasan Ali ended the 75 runs partnership in 21.3 overs in the 38th over by clean bowling Nicholls for 33 with a slow delivery that he swung at and missed.
In the 40th over, New Zealand were 157 for 5 needing some quick run but next man Colin de Grandhomme lifted Shadab Khan to Hasan Ali at long on for 3.
Spinners Shadab and Imad Wasim bowled tightly making the batsmen toil hard for runs, Southee hit a rare boundary in the 46th over off Wasim but Afridi got him out through a one-handed catch by Iman Ul Haq at deep square leg for 13. Taylor and Southee had added 20 more runs in 5.4 overs.
Ish Sodhi who joined Taylor hit for a boundary and a six off successive balls in the 48th over giving hope for a total over 200 runs. Afridi clean bowled Sodhi with another beauty for 13. Taylor steered New Zealand past the 200 run mark through his unbeaten knock.