KARACHI: Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam starred as Pakistan thrashed New Zealand by 26 runs in the third PAK vs NZ ODI to record a historic series victory over the visitors at the National Bank Cricket Arena here on Wednesday.
Pakistan’s ODI series victory over New Zealand marked their first win over the opposition after a 12-year hiatus.
Set to chase 288, New Zealand bundled out for 261 in the final over and thus succumbed to their third consecutive defeat in the five-match series against Pakistan.
The touring side had a flying start to the run chase as their openers – Will Young and Tom Blundell – laid a solid foundation with an 83-run partnership.
The duo dominated the home side bowlers until the 16th over before a direct hit from Salman Ali Agha marked the end of Young’s knock, who scored 33 off 41 deliveries.
Blundell then stitched a brief partnership with in-form Daryl Mitchell as the pair could raise 30 runs before the latter fell victim to Mohammad Wasim Jr after scoring 21 off 24.
Wasim Jr then played his part in drawing another breakthrough for Pakistan as his brilliant fielding effort in the deep caught Blundell well short of his crease.
The right-handed remained the top scorer for New Zealand with a 78-ball 65, which featured seven boundaries.
New Zealand captain Tom Latham, who demoted himself in the batting order, put on brief partnerships with Mark Chapman (13) and Henry Nicholls (1) before finally perishing in the 42nd over after playing a cautious knock of 45 runs in 60 balls.
Debutant Cole McConchie then took the reigns of New Zealand pursuit after Latham’s dismissal but fell short of steering his team home as he received no support from the other end as New Zealand tailenders crumbled against a ruthless Pakistan bowling attack.
The right-handed batter made an unbeaten 64 in 45 balls with the help of six boundaries and two sixes.
For Pakistan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Wasim Jr and Naseem Shah bagged two wickets each while Agha Salman had a scalp to his credit.
Put into bat first in the third PAK vs NZ ODI, Pakistan pile a massive total on the scoreboard at the back of a brilliant 90-run knock by Imam-ul-Haq and Babar Azam’s 56.
The home side had an unwanted start to their innings as they lost their in-form opener, Fakhar Zaman for just 19 in the ninth over as Matt Henry struck gold for New Zealand.
After losing their in-form batter Pakistan soon got their dependable pair – Babar Azam and Imam-ul-Haq – anchoring the proceedings as the duo stitched their eighth 100-run partnership and put the hosts in command.
The pair was looking solid to take the game away from New Zealand until Henry castled Babar in the 29th over – soon after he amassed his 26th half-century.
Babar Azam smashed three boundaries and a six on his way to a 62-ball 54.
Imam-ul-Haq then found brief support in the form of Abdullah Shafique, who could score 19 off 23 before falling to Cole McConchie, who bagged his maiden wicket in the format.
The left-handed opener then found himself in agony as he fell just 10 short of his well-deserved century after Adam Milne’s in-swinging delivery outclassed him in the 38th over.
The back-to-back dismissals, however, did not Pakistan much as a vital 54-run partnership between Agha Salman and Mohammad Rizwan kept the home side in the hunt for a big total.
Salman scored 31 off 29 while Rizwan made 32 off 34 deliveries before they fell in the 46th and 47th over respectively.
Brief yet crucial cameos by Shadab Khan (21 off 10) and Mohammad Nawaz (11 off nine) bolstered Pakistan’s total at the backend as the pair raised 25 runs in the last 13 deliveries.
Right-arm quick Henry led the bowling attack for New Zealand with three wickets while his new-ball partner Milne bagged two. McConchie, on the other hand, had a scalp to his name.