Shaheen Afridi
Shaheen Afridi Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: The stage is set for an exciting finish to the three-match One Day International series between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Dubai International Stadium on Sunday.

Pakistan has bounced back to level the series 1-1 with an impressive six-wicket win over New Zealand at the Zayed Cricket Stadium on Friday and both the teams will be out to give their best in this decider.

For Pakistan, it was a morale-boosting win as they snapped New Zealand’s 12-match winning streak against them in ODIs. For the visitors, to win the ODI series after their 3-0 thrashing from Pakistan in the just concluded Twenty20 series can boost their confidence.

Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmad said after his team win in Abu Dhabi: “We’ll try to play good cricket and win the final game.”

New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson, after missing the chance to wrap the series in Abu Dhabi, said: “We head to Dubai and the surface has a lot of similarities. So we need to address the areas and need to work upon. We will look to build on the lessons (from the defeat).”

Lauding his team’s clinical performance, Sarfraz said: “It was a complete team performance. We were hoping for a comeback and we did that. I think we batted very well. Fakhar (Zaman) played all around the surface. Babar played the bouncers well. Our bowlers contained New Zealand really well after being wayward with the new ball. Our spinners controlled it nicely and the wickets from the pacers in the middle helped,” said Sarfraz.

A candid Williamson said: “We scraped our way through to a total, not enough on this surface. The boys tried hard with the ball but we were outplayed. We definitely need to improve on a lot of areas.”

The skipper then went on to hail the performance of Ross Taylor, who smashed an unbeaten 86 and pacer Lockie Ferguson, who bagged three wickets. “Lockie has the pace and under lights, it skidded on and he was effective. We don’t do that (bowl bouncers) all the time but today was an exception as we were well behind the game.”

Pakistan opener Imam Ul Haq, who was hit on the helmet by Ferguson’s short pitched delivery, has been discharged from the hospital after a scan but he is under observation. 
Williamson reminded that his team had been in such tightly contested series before. “We have been in such situations earlier, so excited for the last game,” he said.

Shaheen Afridi, the gangly paceman who bagged the Man of the Match for his four-wicket spell, expressed his delight over Pakistan’s comeback win. “It’s a big thing that we won. The comeback was pretty nice. I am trying to stick to my line, length and work on my variations. I am learning a lot from the seniors in the team.”