Pakistan beat New Zealand by 6 wickets in their second ODI match to level the series in Abu Dhabi, setting up the decider in Dubai on Sunday.
After their comprehensive win in the first match, New Zealand, unsurprisingly, named an unchanged side, whilst Pakistan brought in Faheem Ashraf for Junaid Khan.
New Zealand won the toss and elected to bat, but they got off to a poor start, losing two of their danger men, Colin Munro and Kane Williamson in the first four overs, with Munro giving Mohammad Hafeez a catch off Shaheen Afridi for 13, and then Afridi himself running out Williamson for a single.
George Worker and Ross Taylor looked to steadily rebuild the innings, but Worker was then bowled by Hafeez for 28. Next over Afridi bowled Tom Latham for a single to reduce New Zealand to 73 – 4.
Taylor then led a recovery with Henry Nicholls, the pair adding 75 for the 5th wicket, although it took them more than 20 overs to do it. The partnership was finally broken when Nicholls was bowled by Hasan Ali for 33, and then New Zealand lost Colin de Grandhomme cheaply for 3, caught by Hasan off the bowling of Shadab Ali for 3. Despite this loss of wickets, Taylor was still at the crease and he combined with first Tim Southee and then Ish Sodhi, both of whom scored 13, to push the score beyond the 200 mark. The innings eventually closed on 209 – 9, with Taylor 86 not out, although he only managed one six and 3 fours.
Afridi was the pick of the Pakistani bowlers with figures of 4 for 38.
In reply Imam ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman made a strong start to the run chase but then, having reached 16 ul-Haq needed medical attention and had to be helped off the field after a short ball hit him in the grille of his helmet. At that point, Pakistan were 54 without loss, and Babar Azam joined Fakhar at the crease and their partnership of 101 for the first wicket effectively took the match away from New Zealand.
Both fell in the same over to Ferguson, Fakhar caught by Sodhi for 88, and Babar caught by Nichols for 46, but, as far as New Zealand were concerned, the damage had been done.
Ferguson got his third wicket when he had Shoaib Malik caught by Sodhi for 10, but Pakistan continued to cruise to victory with men and overs to spare. Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfraz Ahmed took their side to the edge of victory and, although Sarfraz fell to Sodhi just before the end, Hafeez with 27 not out, and Shadab steered their side to victory with more than 9 overs to spare.
Shaheen Afridi’s four wickets, and his role In Williamson’s run out, earned him the man of the match award.