Babar Azam Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Pakistan and New Zealand shared honours after rain spoiled the third and final match of the One-day International series at the Dubai International stadium. New Zealand, chasing Pakistan’s total of 279 for 8 had scored 31 for 1 in 6.5 overs when rain forced the match to be called off. With both teams having won one match the team shared the series.

New Zealand who had to score 280 runs off 300 balls needed a good start but Shaheen Afridi with the fourth delivery of the first over clean bowled Colin Munro for a duck through a brilliant inswinger that hit the middle and leg stump. Opener George Worker and Henry Nicholls were at the crease when rain stopped play.

Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman and Haris Sohail cracked half centuries to steer Pakistan to an impressive 279 for 8. Pakistan that bounced back to equal the series 1-1 at Abu Dhai Zayed Stadium on Friday, has produced another impressive batting performance through Azam, who top scored with 92 runs off 100 balls with four boundaries and a six. Zaman cracked 65 off 77 balls with eight boundaries while Sohail hit a quick 60 off 59 balls with six boundaries and two sixes.

The highlight of the innings was the 108 runs partnership between Azam and Sohail for the third wicket after openers Mohammad Hafeez (19) and Zaman set the stage for a good score through an opening partnership of 64 runs in the first 14 overs.

Pakistan won the toss and elected to bat. New Zealand is captained by Tom Latham as Kane Williamson missed out due to a groin strain. Openers Zaman and Hafeez gave a steady start. In the fifth over, Zaman hit Trent Boult for two consecutive boundaries. The 50 runs partnership came in 10.4 overs with Zaman scoring majority of the runs through elegantly placed drives.

Hafeez fell for 19 when his heel touched the stumps while going back to a Ferguson delivery and was declared hit wicket.

Zaman scored his eighth ODI half century in 56 balls and second in succession. At the Pakistan score on 98, Zaman fell for 65 lofting Colin de Grandhomme to Matt Henry at long-on. Pakistan went past the 100 run mark in the 23.3 overs through a cracking cover drive from Sohail. Babar Azam too picked the gaps nicely. Sohail scored briskly and raced past Azam’ score in a flash. They put on a 50 runs partnership in 44 balls and Pakistan reached 150 for 2 in 30 overs.

Sohail reached his half century by pulling Ish Sodhi over mid-wicket for a six. Azam too raced to his half century. Sohail lifted Boult for his second six to help Pakistan reach the 200 run mark in 39.5 overs.

Ferguson ended Sohail’s knock by having Sohail flick to George Worker at deep square leg in the 41st over. Shoaib Malek joined Azam, who scored mainly through elegant ground shots than boundaries. His half century had only three boundaries. In the 45th over Azam lifted Henry over extra cover for a six.

Azam on 79 escaped being caught by Henry Nicholls off Henry at deep mid-wicket but Henry got Malek out with the next ball. Malek sliced to Worker at point for 18. Azam and Malek had put on 44 runs for the fourth wicket.

Asif Ali joined Azam who moved to his nineties in the 48th over. Azam on 92 swung at Boult and Nichollis this time made no mistake and took the catch at mid-wicket. Asif hit Boult over deep square leg for a six to take Pakistan to 275. Ferguson bowled Faheen Ashraf with the first ball of the last over. He also bowled Ali who swung at him blindly with the fourth ball and return with figures of 4 for 45.