Pakistan snapped a 12-match losing streak in ODIs against New Zealand as Sarfraz Ahmed’s team clinched the second ODI at the Sheikh Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi by six wickets on Friday to level the three-match series 1-1.
New Zealand had last tasted defeat against Pakistan in this format in December 2014 in Sharjah but here, they were undone by a superb spell of bowling from left-arm pacer Shaheen Afridi (4/38) and a wonderful knock of 88 by Fakhar Zaman.
The Blackcaps, leading the series 1-0, chose to bat and they immediately lost Colin Munro for 13 after a fast start. Kane Williamson (1) was run-out and with Goerge Worker (28) and Tom Latham (1) departing in quick succession, the onus was once again on Ross Taylor to steady the ship.
Taylor bats through
On a sluggish pitch, Taylor found an able ally in Henry Nicholls and the pair stitched a 75-run stand for the fifth wicket. However, with both batsmen not able to find the boundary, the pressure mounted.
Towards the end, Afridi and Hasan Ali bowled with tremendous discipline as they conceded just two fours and two sixes in the last 10 overs. Taylor scored his 43rd fifty but it included just three fours and a six as New Zealand ended up on 209/9.
Zaman the star
In response, the left-handed Zaman gave Pakistan a good start in pursuit. There was a scary moment in the game as Imam-ul-Haq (16) retired hurt after he was hit on the helmet by a bouncer from paceman Lockie Ferguson.
However, Zaman found good support from Babar Azam, who recently became the fastest to 1000 runs in Twenty20 Internationals. Zaman and Azam took the game away with a partnership of over 100. However, New Zealand had a glimmer of hope when Ferguson picked up three quick wickets in a fiery spell. The pacer accounted for Zaman (88), Azam (46) and Shoaib Malik (10) as New Zealand pushed for an unlikely win.
However, Mohammad Hafeez held firm and his calm, unbeaten 27 ensured Pakistan secured a six-wicket win and broke the hoodoo in style. The third and final ODI will be played on Sunday at the Dubai International Stadium.