2nd ODI: Fakhar, Afridi help Pakistan draw level against New Zealand
Fakhar Zaman gets ready to pull one. (AFP Image)

Pakistan came back strong in the second ODI at Abu Dhabi and beat New Zealand by six wickets. The win not only allowed them to level the series 1-1, but also snapped their 12-match losing streak that began with a 2-3 defeat in the UAE in 2014. The architects of Pakistan’s win were youngster Shaheen Afridi, who recorded career-best figures of 4 for 38, and opener Fakhar Zaman, who returned to form with a half-century. Chasing 210 for win, Pakistan overhauled the target in 40.3 overs.

Fakhar scored a run-a-ball 88 with 11 boundaries and gave Pakistan a rapid 54-run stand for the opening wicket. Pakistan were technically one wicket down when Imam Ul Haq was retired hurt and taken to a hospital after receiving a blow to his head. However, undeterred by his partner’s injury, Fakhar banished his struggles – that saw him score 57 runs combined in the last six innings – and forged a match-winning partnership with Babar Azam. The two put on a 101-run partnership in quick time and set Pakistan on course.

Both batsmen fell in the same over to Lockie Ferguson. He then removed Shoaib Malik as the batsman fell to an unfortunate dismissal. Malik pulled Ferguson and the ball deflected off Henry Nicoll’s shoulders before it was taken by Ish Sodhi and mid-on. At 177 for 3, Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez took Pakistan forward, and despite the captain departing with Pakistan six away from win, a boundary from Hafeez sealed the win.

Earlier, Afridi was ably supported by the spin duo of Hafeez (1/31) and Shadab Khan (1/25) to restrict New Zealand to 209 for nine. For New Zealand, Ross Taylor put up a lone resistance, scoring an unbeaten 86 off 120 balls, while Nicholls added the second-best score for NZ with a 63-ball 33-run knock.

After opting to bat first, New Zealand lost opener Colin Munro to Afridi for 13 in the second over of the match followed by an unlucky dismissal of Kane Williamson – run-out at the non-striker’s end – when Afridi got a touch off George Walker’s straight drive on to the stumps and Williamson was out of the popping crease. He went for one.

Worker was undone by Hafeez in the 15th over after scoring 28 off 50 balls followed by the wicket of Tom Latham in the next over – castled by Afridi – for one. That left NZ reeling at 73/4.

Taylor and Nicholls revived NZ with stand of 75 runs, but that took 21.1 overs for the duo to conjure up the runs as Pakistan spinners kept a check on the run-rate. Hasan Ali reaped the rewards as he knocked over Nicholls – who tried to break the shackles – in the 38th over.

Tim Southee and Sodhi hung around for a bit scoring 13 runs each as Taylor notched up his 43rd ODI fifty. Afridi returned for fresh spell and sent back both Sodhi and Southee. Taylor remained unbeaten taking NZ’s total past 200.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 212/4 in 40.3 overs (Fakhar Zaman 88, Babar Azam 46; Lockie Ferguson 3-60, Ish Sodhi 1-21) beat New Zealand 209/9 in 50 overs (Ross Taylor 86*, Henry Nicholls 33; Shaheen Afridi 4-38, Hasan Ali 2-59) by six wickets.