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BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates the dismissal of his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson during their match at Edgbaston on Wednesday.—Reuters
BIRMINGHAM: Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed celebrates the dismissal of his New Zealand counterpart Kane Williamson during their match at Edgbaston on Wednesday.—Reuters

BIRMINGHAM: Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme hit fighting half-centuries as New Zealand posted 237 for six after Shaheen Shah Afridi’s three-wicket burst left them in a perilous position against Pakistan on Wednesday.

Neesham finished with a career-best one-day international score of 97 not out, hitting a six off the final ball, while de Grandhomme scored 64 to give their unbeaten team side a defensible total at Edgbaston.

The pair, who came together at 83-5, added 132 for the sixth wicket, repairing the damage after a collapse following Kane Williamson’s decision to bat in overcast conditions in Birmingham.

Teenager Shaheen, who finished with figures of 3-28 in his 10 overs, wrecked the New Zealand top order, taking three wickets in 20 balls as Pakistan looked for a crucial victory following their win against South Africa.

Neesham, whose previous highest ODI score was 74, hit five fours and three sixes in his sixth ODI fifty and was ably supported by de Grandhomme.

Despite New Zealand’s fightback, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said he was confident his side could win the match and stay in the hunt for a semi-final place.

“Shaheen Afridi is only 19, we’ve got to understand that. Today he was outstanding, he asked a lot of questions,” he said. “Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme played well. I thought we kept them at bay pretty well. I think there’s always going to be a partnership, it’s that sort of wicket, but they showed us how to play on the wicket. I’m backing us to chase that total.”

New Zealand were wobbling badly when the in-form Williamson was dismissed by leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who enticed the captain into giving an edge to wicketkeeper Sarfraz Ahmed when he was on 41.

Williamson, who had scored centuries in each of his previous innings, put on 37 for the fifth wicket with Neesham after New Zealand had slipped to 46-4.

Mohammad Amir was first to strike, bowling Martin Guptill with the New Zealand score on five before Shaheen had opener Colin Munro (12) caught by Haris Sohail in the slips.

Ross Taylor was brilliantly caught one-handed by a diving Sarfraz as the veteran right-hander edged a Shaheen delivery; Tom Latham was also caught behind off the young left-armer to leave New Zealand tottering at 46-4 in the 13th over.

Overnight rain delayed the start by an hour but the umpires decided the match would remain at 50 overs per side.

New Zealand, who are second in the 10-team table with 11 points, kept the same team for the fifth match in a row.

Pakistan, who are seventh, with five points, also kept faith with the team that beat South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday.

Scoreboard

NEW ZEALAND:

Batsmen & mode of dismissals R B 4s 6s SR

M.J. Guptill b Amir 5 4 1 0 125.00

C. Munro c Haris b Shaheen 12 17 2 0 70.58

K.S. Williamson c Sarfraz b Shadab 41 69 4 0 59.42

L.R.P.L. Taylor c Sarfraz b Shaheen 3 8 0 0 37.50

T.W.M. Latham c Sarfraz b Shaheen 1 14 0 0 7.14

J.D.S. Neesham not out 97 112 5 3 86.60

C. de Grandhomme run out 64 71 6 1 90.14

M.J. Santner not out 5 5 0 0 100.00

EXTRAS (B-2, LB-3, W-4) 9 - - - --

TOTAL (for six wkts, 50 overs) 237 - - - --

FALL OF WKTS: 1-5 (Guptill, 1.1 ov), 2-24 (Munro, 6.2 ov), 3-38 (Taylor, 8.6 ov), 4-46 (Latham, 12.3 ov), 5-83 (Williamson, 26.2 ov), 6-215 (de Grandhomme, 47.4 ov).

DID NOT BAT: M.J. Henry, L.H. Ferguson, T.A. Boult.

BOWLING: Mohammad Hafeez 7-0-22-0; Mohammad Amir 10-0-67-1 (2w); Shaheen Shah Afridi 10-3-28-3; Imad Wasim 3-0-17-0; Shadab Khan 10-0-43-1; Wahab Riaz 10-0-55-0 (2w).

PAKISTAN: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfraz Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Shah Afridi.

UMPIRES: B.N.J. Oxenford (Australia) and P.R. Reiffel (Australia).

TV UMPIRE: P. Wilson (Australia).

MATCH REFEREE: R.B. Richardson (West Indies).

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2019