Pakistan alive, NZ suffer first defeat

Pakistan have continued on to maintain their ‘1992 theory’ as they hammered New Zealand by 6 wickets at Edgbaston in a must-win World Cup encounter.

New Zealand were yet to face a defeat until this match. A win would have taken them to the semi-finals but they fail to do so as Pakistan ironically match 1992 journey.

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Rain delayed the start of play by an hour. The Blackcaps opted to bat first. Mohammad Amir had Martin Guptill bowled on the first ball of the second over. It was a Shaheen Shah Afridi show from then on. The left-armer picked vital wickets and laid the pressure on.

Kane Williamson’s dismissal to a perfect leg break off Shadab Khan left the Kiwis 5 down for 83. All-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme steadied their way to 132-run partnership for the fifth-wicket on a slow-ish pitch.

de Grandhomme hit 64 off 71 while Neesham remained stranded on 97* from 112 deliveries including 5 fours and 3 sixes. New Zealand ended on 237/6. Shaheen was the peak of the bowlers with 3 for 28 including three maidens.

Pakistan lost their openers despite a confident start in the run-chase. Veteran Mohammad Hafeez fell to the trap of part-timer once again as his almighty hoick off Williamson got him for 32 at deep mid-wicket.

New Zealand brought on the spin attack – skipper Williamson himself and Mitchell Santner. New batsman Haris Sohail survived with Babar Azam marching towards a big score.

Babar scored his first World Cup hundred in 124 balls while the fourth-wicket stand put on 126 runs. Sohail got his form going with 76-ball 68 runs.

Pakistan got home by six wickets in the last over. Babar was the star with for his 101* runs off 127 balls with 11 fours.

Brief scores:

New Zealand 237/6 in 50 overs (Neesham 97*, de Grandhomme 64; Shaheen 3/28, Shadab 1/43)

Pakistan 241/4 in 49.1 overs (Babar 101*, Haris 68; Williamson 1/39, Boult 1/48)

Pakistan won by 6 wickets

Man of the Match: Babar Azam

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