By India Today Sports Desk: Pakistan opening batter Fakhar Zaman scored a brilliant century to guide his side to a five-wicket win over New Zealand in Rawalpindi. With this win, Pakistan took a 1-0 lead in the five-match one-day international series at home.
Babar Azam won the toss for his side and opted to field first. The visitors got off to a cautious start with openers Will Young and Chad Bowes getting off to good starts. However, Pakistan’s express pacer Haris Rauf provided the first breakthrough of the game by dismissing Bowes in the 10th over, after scoring 18 runs off 26 balls.
Young then stitched a crucial 102-run partnership with Daryl Mitchell and also went on to complete his half-century. The partnership was eventually broken by spinner Shadab Khan, who dismissed Young in the 27th over. Young scored 86 runs off 78 deliveries, smashing eight boundaries and two sixes.
Then Mitchell and Tom Latham stuck around for a 72-run stand before Latham was caught LBW by Shaheen Shah Afridi. Mark Chapman also could not stamp his authority on the match, being cleaned by Rauf after scoring 15 runs off 16 balls.
Even as wickets kept tumbling around him, Mitchell went on to complete his century before falling at the hands of Shaheen in the 47th over. Mitchell scored 113 runs off 115 balls, hitting 11 boundaries and a solitary six.
Henry Nicholls played a cameo for the Kiwis towards the end to help them post 288 for 7 after 50 overs. Rauf, Shaheen and Naseem Shah, who cleaned up the lower-order, all picked up two wickets each for the hosts.
In the second innings, Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq got Pakistan off to a flyer, amassing 124 runs for the opening wicket. Both batters completed their fifties before Imam was caught LBW by spinner Ish Sodhi, after hitting 60 runs off 65 deliveries.
Zaman then formed a 90-run stand with skipper Babar Azam, who missed out on his half-century by just one run. Azam was dismissed by Adam Milne after scoring 49 runs off 46 balls. Milne picked up his second wicket of the day when he dismissed Shan Masood in the 38th over.
Zaman went on to complete his ninth ODI century before being dismissed by Rachin Ravindra. Zaman scored 117 runs off 114 balls, hitting 13 boundaries and one maximum. Following Zaman’s wicket, Mohammad Rizwan took matters in his hand and played a quick-fire 34-ball 42 to guide his side over the line with five wickets and nine balls remaining.
With this victory, Pakistan took a 1-0 lead in the five-match ODI series. The next match of the series will be played at the same venue on April 29.
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