PAKISTAN opener Fakhar Zaman plays a lofted shot as New Zealand wicket-keeper Tom Latham looks on during the first ODI at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star
PAKISTAN opener Fakhar Zaman plays a lofted shot as New Zealand wicket-keeper Tom Latham looks on during the first ODI at the Pindi Cricket Stadium on Thursday.—Tanveer Shahzad/White Star

RAWALPINDI: It was in the 20th over that Fakhar Zaman caused mayhem in the stands at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Daryl Mitchell, New Zealand’s centurion on the day, was smacked over mid-wicket for a massive six; the first maximum of Pakistan’s innings with southpaw openers Fakhar and Imam-ul-Haq having laid the platform for victory in the opening One-day International on Thursday.

Imam and Fakhar had both reached their half-centuries and Pakistan had been dealing in boundaries. Soon after Fakhar’s hit, Imam launched Ish Sodhi down the ground for a towering six but fell on the next ball when the New Zealand spinner trapped him lbw for 60.

In came skipper Babar Azam and he soon had the fervent home crowd back on its feet with a four through mid-wicket off Rachin Ravindra and following it with a six down long-on off Sodhi.

The day, though, belonged to Fakhar and the left-hander slammed his ninth ODI hundred, hitting 13 fours and a six before being dismissed on 117 and ultimately setting up a comfortable five-wicket victory for Pakistan.

Pakistan had earlier prevented New Zealand from accelerating in the death overs despite Mitchell’s career-best 113 and Will Young’s blistering 86, restricting them to 288-7. The Black Caps couldn’t do that for a sustained period and although they did hit back from time to time, Pakistan ultimately had too much in the tank.

Most importantly, they had Fakhar who gave nothing away and pounced severely on anything loose. Fakhar raised his century off 99 deliveries before Adam Milne picked up two wickets in two overs. Babar, whose 49 off 46 deliveries featured three fours and a six, was caught behind and Shan Masood gave a simple catch at cover.

From 214-1, Pakistan had slipped to 217-3 but Fakhar released the pressure by hitting Sodhi for consecutive fours in the next over before lashing Milne to the mid-wicket fence. Mohammad Rizwan took no time to settle and kept the runs coming.

 NEW ZEALAND batter Daryl Mitchell celebrates after scoring the century against Pakistan on Thursday.—White Star
NEW ZEALAND batter Daryl Mitchell celebrates after scoring the century against Pakistan on Thursday.—White Star

Fakhar’s 114-ball knock ended when he skied Ravindra to mid-on but Rizwan took Pakistan home with nine balls to spare, hitting a six and six fours in an unbeaten 42 off 34.

Opener Young had set up the New Zealand innings after they had been sent into bat, hitting spinners Mohammad Nawaz and Agha Salman for sixes as well as stroking eight boundaries during his 78-ball knock.

After his opening partner Chad Bowes (18) was caught behind off Haris Rauf (2-65) in the 10th over, Young put up a 102-run partnership with Mitchell for the second wicket. Mitchell made a sedate start with Young being the aggressor until he holed off-spinner Shadab Khan to long-off.

Having been dropped on the return by Salman on 23, Mitchell reached his half-century off 60 deliveries and provided the majority of the runs in a 72-run stand with his skipper Tom Latham (20).

Latham was trapped lbw by Shaheen Shah Afridi (2-63) with Mitchell reaching his second ODI century soon after with a four crunched past Pakistan’s pace spearhead.

Mark Chapman, whose blistering century saw New Zealand square the five-game Twenty20 International series earlier this week, was cleaned up for 15 by pacer Haris as the Black Caps failed to build on the momentum in the last 10 overs.

They scored just 66 with Shaheen ending Mitchell’s 115-ball knock when he had the right-hander caught by Fakhar at deep mid-wicket.

Mitchell bettered his previous best of 100 not out against Bangladesh in 2021 and hit 11 fours and a six during his impressive ton.

Henry Nicolls was unbeaten on 20 in the end with Naseem Shah (2-29), the most impressive of the Pakistan pacers, getting his reward at long last on the last two balls of the innings when he got Ravindra caught at long-on and then dismantled the stumps of Adam Milne.

New Zealand had a score to bowl at but the solid opening stand of 124 between Fakhar and Imam soon had them on the backfoot. They did get Imam, who unsuccessfully reviewed his dismissal after hitting five fours and that six in his 65-ball knock, and then Babar, Shan, Fakhar and Salman but it wasn’t enough.

SCOREBOARD

NEW ZEALAND:

W. Young c Haris b Shadab 86

C. Bowes c Rizwan b Haris 18

D. Mitchell c Fakhar b Shaheen 113

T. Latham lbw b Shaheen 20

M. Chapman b Haris 15

H. Nicholls not out 20

R. Ravindra c Nawaz b Naseem 9

A. Milne b Naseem 0

EXTRAS (B-1, LB-4, W-2) 7

TOTAL (for seven wickets, 50 overs) 288

DID NOT BAT: I. Sodhi, M. Henry, B. Tickner

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-48 (Bowes), 2-150 (Young), 3-222 (Latham), 4-248 (Chapman), 5-260 (Mitchell), 6-288 (Ravindra), 7-288 (Milne)

BOWLING: Shaheen 10-0-63-2, Naseem 10-2-29-2 (1w), Nawaz 8-0-55-0, Haris 10-0-65-2 (1w), Shadab 10-0-56-1, Salman 2-0-15-0

PAKISTAN:

Fakhar Zaman c Bowes b Ravindra 117

Imam-ul-Haq lbw b Sodhi 60

Babar Azam c Latham b Milne 49

Shan Masood c Nicholls b Milne 1

Mohammad Rizwan not out 42

Agha Salman c Latham b Tickner 7

Mohammad Nawaz not out 8

EXTRAS (LB-3, W-4) 7

TOTAL (for five wickets, 48.3 overs) 291 DID NOT BAT: Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf

FALL OF WICKETS: 1-124 (Imam), 2-214 (Babar), 3-217 (Shan), 4-255 (Fakhar), 5-273 (Salman)

BOWLING: Milne 9-0-60-2 (1w), Henry 10-0-45-0, Tickner 9-0-52-1 (1w), Sodhi 10-0-51-1, Mitchell 3-0-27-0, Ravindra 7.3-0-53-1 (2w)

RESULT: Pakistan won by five wickets.

Published in Dawn, April 28th, 2023

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