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Rawalpindi, April 28 – Pakistan opener Fakhar Zamans ninth century in ODI cricket helped the hosts secure a five-wicket victory over New Zealand in the series opener at the Pindi Cricket Stadium. Through this, Pakistan also claimed their 500th win in ODIs, becoming only the third team to do so after Australia and India.
Chasing 289, Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq shared a solid 124-run opening stand. After scoring his 15th ODI half-century, Imam was trapped leg-before by leg-spinner Ish Sodhi in the 22nd over, departing for 60 off 65 balls, laced with five fours and one six.
After ‘mam’s departure, Zaman added 90 runs for the second wicket with captain Babar Azam and also brought up his ninth ODI century in the 35th over. Babar missed out on his 25th ODI half-century by one when he was caught behind off pacer Adam Milne in the next over, with Shan Masood too departing cheaply.
With 12 overs remaining, Fakhar and Mohammad Rizwan struck five boundaries and a six between them in the next three overs to keep Pakistan in control of the chase. There was some panic after Zaman got out to left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra in the 43rd over, departing for 117 off 114 balls and Salman Ali Agha too fell quickly.
But Rizwan kept calm and remained 42 not out while Mohammad Nawaz was unbeaten on eight as Pakistan reached home with nine balls to spare and five wickets in hand, taking a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Earlier, after being put into batting first, New Zealand made 288/7 in their 50 overs, with Daryl Mitchell striking a century.
After a 48-run partnership for the opening wicket between Chad Bowes and Will Young, Michell came to bat at number three after Bowes fell to Haris Rauf in the 10th over.
Both Mitchell and Young took full advantage of loose deliveries to share a stand of 102 runs for the second wicket before vice-captain Shadab Khan broke the partnership by dismissing the latter for a 78-ball 86.
After Mitchell brought up his second ODI century in the 42nd over, Pakistan bowlers made a remarkable comeback in the last eight overs, giving away only 53 runs and taking four wickets in the final eight overs of the innings, including Mitchell falling for 113 off 115 balls, smashing 11 fours and one six.
New Zealand 288/7 in 50 overs (Daryl Mitchell 113, Will Young 86, Naseem Shah 2-29) lost to Pakistan 291/5 in 48.3 overs (Fakhar Zaman 117, Imam-ul-Haq 60; Adam Milne 2-60) by five wickets