Fakhar Zaman hits ton to guide Pakistan to win against New Zealand

RAWALPINDI, Apr 28 (APP): Pakistan pulled off a five-wicket win against New Zealand in the inaugural fixture of the five-match ODI series thanks to a superb knock by left-hand opening batter Fakhar Zaman here at Pindi Cricket Stadium Rawalpindi late Thursday.

Fakhar scored 117 off 112 balls, smashing 13 boundaries and a maximum to steer his side to a superb victory.

Imam-ul-Haq, who hammered a wonderful half-century (60 off 65) forged a 124-run first-wicket stand with Fakhar in 21.2 overs to set the platform for the coming batters.

Skipper Babar Azam (49 off 46) 34) played his part by making a decent contribution. But Shan Masood (1 off 12) and Agha Salman (7 off 10) remained unable to impress. However, it was Muhammad Rizwan, who stood till the end scoring an unbeaten 42 off 34 balls with 6 fours and a maximum and finished the game with 9 balls to spare with Mohammad Nawaz present at the other end.

Earlier, Pakistan captain Babar Azam won the toss and chose to field first.

The Kiwi openers Will Young and Chad Bowes provided their team with a decent start as they added 48 runs for the first wicket stand. Haris Rauf dismissed Bowes for 18 off 26 in the 10th over.

Daryl Mitchell, who came at number three and stitched a brilliant 102-run stand with Young, who missed out on a ton as he was dispatched by Shadab Khan in the 27th over for 86 off 78 balls. New Zealand captain Tom Latham joined Mitchell at the crease and the duo took the innings forward by adding 72 runs for the third wicket. Mitchell made his 50 off 60 balls, setting himself for a big score.

Latham was in poor touch as he struggled to collect 20 runs off 36 balls. He was dismissed by Shaheen Afridi who trapped him in front of the stumps in the 40th over. However, Mitchell continued baiting brilliantly and raced towards his second ODI hundred with an exquisite boundary to Afridi in the 42nd over.

He scored a magnificent  113 off 115, hitting 11 fours and a six in his innings before giving his wicket to Afridi in the 47th over of the innings. Courtesy of his brilliant knock, the Kiwis finished their innings on 288/7.

Naseem Shah, who picked up 2/29 in 10 overs, was the pick of the bowlers for Pakistan while Shaheen Afridi and Haris Rauf also claimed two wickets apiece for 63 and 65 runs respectively.

Fakhar was declared man-of-the-match for his match-winning performance.

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