Pakistan took a comfortable 6-wicket win over New Zealand at Abu Dhabi to level the series 1-1 after New Zealand’s batters managed to hit just 12 boundaries in their innings.
New Zealand’s decision to bat first didn’t reap the desired rewards they had hoped for, as a determined Pakistan side restricted them to 209-9 off their 50 overs.
Ross Taylor dominated the innings with a superb, undefeated 86 off 120 balls, with just three fours and a single six, while left-hander Henry Nicholls (33 off 63 balls, one four) and George Worker (28 off 50, two fours) offered support but struggled to score at a competitive rate.
Shaheen Shah Afridi was superb with the ball, taking 4-38 (econ 4.22) to earn the Player of the Match honours. Hasan Ali 2-59 (econ 6.55) picked up valuable wickets, while Shadab Khan was particularly miserly, conceding just 25 runs off his 10 overs (1-25, econ 2.50).
Pakistan lost Imam-ul-Haq retired hurt for 16 after being struck on the helmet, leaving fellow opener Fakhar Zaman (88 off 88 balls, 11 fours) and Babar Azam (46 off 50 balls, five fours) to take the score to 155 when Zaman lost his wicket, followed one run later by Zaman.
Mohammad Hafeez took Pakistan to a comfortable victory by six wickets with nine-and-a-half overs in hand, Hafeez ending undefeated on 27 off 31 balls. Pakistan scored 21 boundaries in their successful run chase, although none of their batters cleared the ropes during the innings.
Lockie Ferguson picked up the first three wickets to fall, ending with figures of 3-60 (econ 6.00).
‘It was a complete team performance. We hoped to come back strongly and we did,’ revealed Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed after the match. ‘We wanted to use the new ball effectively. I think we batted very well today, Fakhar played all around the surface. We tackled the bouncer very well too. Our bowlers contained it really well after being wayward with the new ball. Our spinners controlled it nicely and the wickets from the pacers in the middle helped. Look forward to the decider in Dubai.’
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson admitted that his side simply didn’t score enough on the surface.
‘We were outplayed,’ said Williamson. ‘In hindsight, we will look back some things that we need to improve. In Dubai, we’ll look to build on the lessons. With the ball, the guys did try hard, but not enough runs. (Lockie Ferguson) has the pace which is handy. Under lights it skidded on a little more. At the end of the day, (a short ball strategy) isn’t something we do all the time.’
The deciding match in the ODI series will be played on Sunday 11 November in Dubai.
Imam-ul-Haq – who had just returned to the side following after suffering a finger injury in the second Test against Australia last month – went for precautionary tests in hospital but received the all-clear from the medical staff. The team’s physio will keep him under observation to monitor his condition.
Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images