Babar Azam
Babar Azam (AFP Photo)

Babar Azam fell short of his century by eight runs as Pakistan posted a challenging 279/8 in the third and final ODI against New Zealand in Dubai on Sunday.

After opting to bat first in the series decider, Pakistan were powered by fifties from Azam (92), opener Fakhar Zaman (65) and Haris Sohail (60) at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium. Lockie Ferguson (5/45) was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, finishing with his maiden five-wicket haul.

Pakistan openers made a steady start adding 64 runs before Mohammed Hafeez, promoted up the order after Imam-ul-Haq was rested, was out hit-wicket on 19 off Ferguson.

Zaman looked in good nick, scoring eight fours before being dismissed in the 23rd over. His departure brought together Azam and Sohail and together they steered the innings forward, adding 108 runs for the third wicket.

Ferguson then broke the partnership, removing Sohail in the 41st over. Shoaib Malik scored run-a-ball 18 before holing out to George Worker. Azam looked well-set to reach three figures when Trent Boult, who leaked 80 runs in 10 overs, removed him for his only wicket of the match. He scored 92 off 100 with four fours and a six.

Pakistan could have scored more but for Ferguson who bowled brilliantly in the death overs. He took three wickets in innings final over that included the scalps of Faheem Ashraf (5), Asif Ali (9) and Hasan Ali (2) and while allowing just four runs in it.

The series is currently locked at 1-1.

Brief Scores: Pakistan 279/8 (Babar Azam 92, Fakhar Zaman 65, Haris Sohail 60) vs New Zealand (Lockie Ferguson 5/45)