Fakhar Zaman's ton powers Pakistan to five-wicket win over NZ in first ODI

The Men in Green chased down the target of 289 runs thanks to brilliance from Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Imam ul Haq

Fakhar Zaman's ton powers Pakistan to five-wicket win over NZ in first ODI PHOTO: AFP

Fakhar Zaman’s century helped Pakistan beat New Zealand by five wickets in the first ODI at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on Thursday. The second ODI of the five-match series will be played at the same venue on 29 April.

Tonight’s win was also Pakistan’s 500 ODI victory in this format since they played their first ODI in 1973 and that too was against New Zealand.

Chasing 289 to win, the opening pair of Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq provided a solid 124-run opening stand. Imam was soon dispatched after scoring his 15th ODI half-century. He was trapped leg-before by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi in the 22nd over for 60 after facing 65 balls, which included five fours and one six. After Imam’s departure, captain Babar Azam and Fakhar got together. The pair added 90 runs for the second wicket and during the course of the partnership player of the match Fakhar also brought up his ninth ODI century in the 35th over.

Babar, who was all set to score big tonight, missed out on his 25th half-century and got caught behind off the bowling of Adam Milne for 49 off 46 balls in the 36th over. The top ODI batter in the ICC rankings struck three fours and a six at a strike-rate of 106.52. Milne went on to pick Shan Masood (1, 12b) in the 38th over to put pressure back on the home side, as suddenly the required run-rate climbed to six runs an over with 12 overs remaining. But Fakhar and Rizwan struck five boundaries and a six between them in the next three overs to bring the required rate back to under five an over.

While playing too many shots, Fakhar got out to left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra in the 43rd over. The left-handed opening batter innings included 13 fours and a six as he scored 117 off 114 balls. Salman Ali Agha (7, 10b, 1x4) was the last batter to get out in the run-chase as Mohammad Rizwan (42 not out off 34 balls, six fours, one six) and Mohammad Nawaz (8 not out, 10b, 1x4) took Pakistan home with nine balls to spare and five wickets in hand.

For New Zealand, Milne ended up with figures of two for 60 in nine overs.

Earlier, after being put into bat, the kiwis scored 288 for seven in their 50 overs.

Daryl Mitchell and Will Young were the standout performers for New Zealand. After a 48-run partnership for the opening wicket between Chad Bowes (18, 26b, 3x4s) and Young, Michell came to bat at number three to replace Bowes who fell to Haris Rauf in the 10th over.

Both Mitchell and Young took full advantage of loose deliveries and punished them all around the ground as Pakistan bowlers struggled to take wickets. The pair knitted 102 runs for the second wicket before vice-captain Shadab Khan broke the partnership dismissing Young for a 78-ball 86 innings. The right-handed batter innings included eight fours and two sixes.

Skipper Tom Latham and Mitchell got together in the 27th over with 150 runs on the board and they added 72 runs for the third wicket. Latham departed for 20 off 36 balls in the 40th over of the innings, getting leg-before to Shaheen Shah.

The 31-year-old-Mitchell brought up his second ODI century in the 42nd over of the innings. After Mitchell’s century, Pakistan bowlers made a remarkable comeback in the death overs. They put brakes on New Zealand’s run-scoring and gave away only 53 runs and took four wickets in the final eight overs of the innings.  It also included crucial dismissal of Michael, who was finally dismissed for 113 off 115 balls, smashing 11 fours and one six.

Right-arm fast Naseem Shah was the most economical bowler for the hosts, as he gave away only 29 runs off 10 overs and took two wickets – both on the final two balls of the innings.

Shaheen and Haris also bagged two wickets each for 63 and 65 runs, respectively.

Scores in brief:

Pakistan beat New Zealand by five wickets

New Zealand 288-7, 50 overs (Daryl Mitchell 113, Will Young 86; Naseem Shah 2-29, Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-63, Haris Rauf 2-65)

Pakistan 291-5, 48.3 overs (Fakhar Zaman 117, Imam-ul-Haq 60, Babar Azam 49, Mohammad Rizwan 42 not out; Adam Milne 2-60)

Player of the match – Fakhar Zaman (Pakistan)