By AZ Khan
KARACHI: It was a day of Fakhar Zaman whose swashbuckling knock, featuring 11 sixes enabled Pakistan to keep alive when they downed New Zealand by 21 runs on D/L method in their eighth round show of the ICC World Cup in Bengaluru on Saturday.
Chasing a tough target of 402 Fakhar’s belligerence never felt Pakistan at any stage in the rain-marred show that they would lose it. And it turned right despite ba short interruption by the rain which let Pakistan got their revised total of 342 to chase down in 41 overs. The rain started at a stage when Pakistan were ten runs ahead of New Zealand and when again steady rain began Pakistan were clear of 21 runs and a 19 in an over from Ish Sodhi did in fact the job for the Green-shirts, an over in which all-blazing Fakhar hit two sixes towards inside with Babar managing a super one down long on with a perfect dash that went straight into the stands.
Fakhar, who brought in his 50 off 39 balls, went almost after every delivery, punishing Bouot, n Southee, Sodi and Santner towards all corners of the park which has a shortened boundary.
Fakhar also smacked eight fours in his 81-ball 126.
He added 194 for the second with unbroken stand with skipper Babar Azam who went out unbeaten on a 63+ball 66, smashing two sixes and six fours.
Ish Sodhi conceded 44 in just four overs while Trent Boult was punished too much as he gave away 50 in six overs.
Babar Azam’s decision to bowl first raised eyebrows as the wicket was too flat and it proved right when Kane Williamson, playing his second game, and Rachin Ravindra demonstrated tremendous power-hitting against a star-studded Pakistan’s pace-attack which was seen toothless.
Shaheen Afridi, the front-runner, became the most expensive bowler in Pakistan’s World Cup history as the left-armer leaked 90 runs in his quota of ten overs.
He was hit across the park with an enviable ease by both Ravindra and Williamson who shared a huge and rapid 180 for the second wicket inside no time after Conway earlier gave a solid start to New Zealand along with Ravindra.
Ravindra smashed 108 off 94 balls, smacking 15 fours and a six.
Williamson struck 79-ball 95 which featured ten fours and two sixes, an innings which was needed for his side at No3. It was indeed a selfless exploit in front of the jam-packed venue.
Glenn Phillips belted a 25-ball 41, striking four fours and two sixes while Mark Chapman made a 27-ball 39, hitting seven fours.
Conway made 39-ball 35 and Mitchell Santner chipped in with a 17-ball 26.
Mohammad Waseem Junior turned out to be the only Pakistani bowler who left a lot of impression, picking three for 60 in his quota of ten overs.
The win brought Pakistan join New Zealand at eight points with both sides having a game in hand with the Kiwis enjoying a better net run-rate at this stage.
By AZ Khan