Right-handed batsman Babar Azam smashed a century to set the tone for Pakistan as they beat New Zealand by six wickets in a life-saving contest for them in the World Cup.
Babar scored 101 off 127 balls to become the only centurion for Pakistan in this year’s World Cup. Haris Sohail from the other hand kept the things tight for his team as he scored 57 runs off 66 balls.
While batting first, New Zealand’s top-order failed completely to get off the mark. But fighting knocks from Jimmy Neesham (97) and De Grandhomme (64) helped New Zealand to lift up from a tough situation to 237-6.
New Zealand saw their top-order collapsing as they lost four wickets for just 46 runs. But Neesham and Grandhomme took complete responsibility and put solid 132 runs partnership on the scoreboard to release some pressure in the dressing room.
Neesham struck five boundaries and two sixes while Grandhomme smashed six boundaries and a six.
Mohammad Amir provided an early breakthrough to Pakistan. Martin Guptill (5) edged the ball into the stumps to walk off earlier. Later, Captain Kane Williamson and Colin Munro tried to build the inning but Shaheen Shah Afridi joined the party as he removed Munro to give Pakistan second major breakthrough of the match. Munro was trying to drive the length delivery but edged it straight in the hands of Haris Sohail at first slip. The left-handed batsman made just 12 runs.
The 19-years-old Afridi then quickly picked up experienced Ross Taylor on the front foot as Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed took a brilliant catch behind the stumps while diving to his right. Taylor left the field after scoring just 3 runs.
The youngster was looking in dangerous form as he didn’t give any chance to the opponents. He got his third wicket in a row by removing Tom Latham who as failed to handle the length delivery and edged the ball behind the stumps to the keeper. He made just a run.
Skipper Kane Williamson fell to Shadab Khan’s sharp spun delivery after scoring a well-fought 41 runs off 69 runs.
Young Afridi took three wickets while Mohammad Amir and Shadab Khan shared a wicket apiece.
In reply, Pakistan’s opening pair fell for just 44 runs but Babar Azam and Haris Sohail put up a great show. They both put 126 runs together on the scoreboard.
Babar’s inning included 11 boundaries and Haris struck five boundaries and two sixes.
Part-time bowler Kane Williamson picked up a wicket as Hafeez missed out on a silly shot. Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult also took a wicket each.