World Cup 2019: Babar, Shaheen keep Pakistan alive

Riding on the exploits of Babar Azam, Haris Sohail and Shaheen Afridi - Pakistan ended New Zealand's unbeaten run at World Cup 2019.

Babar Azam plays the pull in Pakistan's match against New Zealand.   -  Getty Images

This has been a terrific run for Pakistan as it ends New Zealand's unbeaten run with a clinical six-wicket win in Birmingham.

Sarfaraz punches to the square of the wicket to bring up the victory for Pakistan.

PAK 237/4 in 49 overs: The scores are level. Lockie Ferguson to bowl the last over.

Haris Sohail run out on 68 with Pakistan two runs away from victory.

Pakistan now four runs away from win, two overs remaining.

And that will be century for Babar Azam, his 10th in ODIs and first in a World Cup. Top knock on a tough pitch.

PAK 225/3 in 47 overs: Babar plays out four dot balls off Boult, still on 99. Pakistan needs 13 off 18 balls.

FOUR. Babar Azam moves to 99 with a boundary off Lockie Ferguson. Pakistan need 14 off 24 balls.

PAK 215/3 in 45 overs: Sohail finishes off the over with a boundary to long-off. Pakistan needs 23 off 30 balls.

Haris Sohail brings up his second fifty of the World Cup and that to under pressure. The 100-run partnership also up.

PAK 183/3 in 40 overs: Santner brought back into the attack but not successful to get the breakthrough as Babar and Sohail take Pakistan closer to the target. Pakistan now needs 55 off the last 10 overs.

The fifty-run partnership comes up for Babar and Sohail, as Williamson gives away two successive boundaries. The match slipping away.

PAK 154/3 in 36 overs: Williamson brings on Colin Munro to get a breakthrough as Babar Azam and Haris Sohail have put up a solid stand after Hafeez dismissal. Can the both pull off the chase?

PAK 142/3 in 34 overs: Babar Azam and Haris Sohail have brought the required target below 100. The pitch being now behaving like a fourth innings track, the Kiwis needs wickets in a flurry. Azam on 56 and Sohail on 22.

Lockie Ferguson is back into the attack. New Zealand needs wickets here with Pakistan needing 105 more runs to win.

PAK 116/3 in 28 overs: The pitch has all of a sudden started to turn square and grip. Santner and Williamson posing problems for Babar Azam and Haris Sohail.

Fifty up for Babar Azam off 67 balls. The right-handed batsman holds the key to Pakistan's chase.

PAK 110/3 in 24.5 overs: The part-time offspinner Kane Williamson does the trick as the Kiwi skipper snaps the 66-run stand by dismissing Mohammad Hafeez for 32. Tossed up delivery and Hafeez slogs it straight to the midwicket fielder.

PAK 104/2 in 23 overs: Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez have added 60 off 76 balls as James Neesham leaks 13 runs - including two boundaries over cow corner and third man - and the partnership looks to threaten New Zealand.

PAK 89/2 in 21 overs: Mitchell Santner and James Neesham give just five in two overs as the Pakistan batsmen are happy to knock the ball around and take the singles on offer. The partnership between Hafeez and Babar Azam is now 45 and is threating the Kiwis.

PAK 80/2 in 18 overs: Mitchell Santner, the trump card for Kane Williamson, is introduced and he starts with a ripper. The ball just whizzed past Babar Azam as he looked flummoxed. The last ball of the over took the edge but just went past the slip cordon. A good start from the spinner.

PAK 71/2 in 16 overs: Seven runs of the Colin de Grandhomme over as drinks are called. Mohammad Hafeez runs to the dressing room for a short break.

PAK 64/2 in 15 overs: Mohammad Hafeez (16 off 25) and Babar Azam (20 off 26) have added 20 off 28 balls as Lockie Ferguson, in a midst of a good spells, errs at times with the batsman sending it to the boundary on most of the occassions.

PAK 51/2 in 13 overs: Lockie Ferguson is in the midst of a superb spell. He is steaming in at almost 145 clicks and has kept the batsmen guessing for the most part of the over. Hafeez got on top just once in the over when he pulled a short ball, which was almost 142 kmph, to the fence. Pakistan needs 187 more runs to win.

A holdup in play as a part of a staircase near the sight screen isn't covered.

PAK 45/2 in 11 overs: New Zealand strikes again. Lockie Ferguson removes Imam in just his second ball. Brilliant catch from Guptill, his second of the match. The experienced Mohammad Hafeez walks in. Just two runs came off that over.

PAK 43/1 in 10 overs: Two beautiful drives to the boundary from Babar off the bowling of Boult. Eight came off that over. Henry concedes two in his over. And there comes the first bowling change of the innings. Lockie Ferguson to bowl.

PAK 33/1 in 8 overs: Two tight overs from New Zealand here. Boult's over cost two and just a single came off Henry's over. Imam and Azam are being cautious against the New Zealnd new-ball bowlers.

PAK 30/1 in 6 overs: Pakistan living dangerously here. It has given a number of half-chances for New Zealand. However, Imam and Babar Azam are unbeaten on 16 and 5 respectively. Boult and Matt Henry are attacking the stumps.

PAK 19/1 in 3 overs: Trent Boult gets the early wicket. He sends Fakhar Zaman (9) on his way. The batsman tries to flick a length ball but gets a leading edge and Guptill makes no mistake.

Fakhar Zaman and Imam-ul-Haq to open for Pakistan. Trent Boult will steam in with the new ball.

We'll be back with the chase, in a bit.

NZ 237/6 in 50 overs: 14 runs in the last over, bowled by Wahab Riaz and New Zealand finishes its 50 overs on 237/6. They have come a long way from 83/5 in 26.2 overs, all thanks to Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham as they added 131 runs at less than run-a-ball. Pakistan dominated the first half of this innings while New Zealand returned the favour in the next half. A tricky target this is for Pakistan!

NZ 223/6 in 49 overs: The last six balls of the innings and James Neesham (85) and Mitchell Santner (4) will look to seal this off. The penultimate over of the innings from Mohammad Amir has given NZ just 6 runs but the one previous from Wahab Riaz, in which CDG was run-out, has given NZ 8.

NZ 215/6 in 47.4 overs: For the most part of this partnership, a run-out was the only way it looked like either of the two would depart and it has happened exactly that way. The 131-run partnership (128 balls) is broken as CDG is runout for 64. The throw from Mohammad Amir at third man was accurate and Sarfaraz clips the bails off. A risky second run is the reason for CDG's departure. He is out for 64 (71 balls, 6 fours, 1 six). The entire ground, the dug out all applaud as CDG walks off. He and Neesham have lifted NZ to a score of repute.

NZ 209/5 in 47 overs: The most expensive over in this innings as Amir is milked for 18 runs by Neesham and CDG.

NZ 197/5 in 46.1 overs: Neesham sends Mohammad Amir over the deep midwicket boundary with a clean bat swing. It is the first six off Amir in the World Cup 2019.

NZ  184/5 in 44.5 overs: 100 runs partnership between Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham. The batsmen have lifted New Zealand from the dumps and have provided some relief to the dugout. CDG, in the process, completes his half-century and Neesham, at the other end, is on 69.

NZ 176/5 in 44 overs: Pakistan loses its review over as Sarfaraz was confident of a caught behind. Paul Rieffel felt otherwise and gave a soft signal as not out. The third umpire was summoned and he didn't change the decision as the replays showed day light between bat and ball. The UltraEdge wasn't used and Sarfaraz asked for a review and UltraEdge showed no spike!

NZ 172/5 in 43 overs: CDG and James Neesham have ensured New Zealand do not go down limping. The duo has added 89 runs in 100 balls as they take attack to Pakistan, evident when Amir pitched up a bit and CDG slammed it to the fence over extra cover in a flash. The batsmen are flexing their muscles and NZ looks to be set for a competitive total.

NZ 152/5 in 40 overs: Shaheen Afridi bowls another good over, giving away just two runs. We are now into the last phase of the innings -- the last 10 overs, 60 balls. How much can New Zealand get?

NZ 150/5 in 39 overs: CDG and James Neesham have added 67 off 76 balls as New Zealand breaches the 150-run mark. Neesham is on 49 and CDG is on 37. Sarfaraz Ahmed just seems to have run out of ideas. His strike bowlers should do the job for him as he reintroduces Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Amir.

NZ 139/5 in 36 overs: The last five overs have given New Zealand 42 runs, at 8.40 runs per over, as the Black Caps are in a superb passage of play. The runs are coming quick and the bowlers have been less threatening. The duo must carry on to lift New Zealand to a score of repute.

The partnership between James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme is now 50. The runs have also come in quick time, just 54 balls as New Zealand looks to steady its wobbling ship.

NZ 132/5 in 35 overs: 11 runs off the over as New Zealand is slowly building this up.

NZ 127/1 in 34.1 overs: The first SIX of the match. Shadab drops it short and de Grandhomme tonks it over midwicket.

NZ 115/5 in 33 overs: A fruitful over comes through for the Kiwis as Shadab Khan concedes 12 runs. Both the batsmen taking their chances now and rightly so against the spinners.

NZ 103/5 in 32 overs: Colin de Grandhomme (13 off 22) and James Neesham (26 off 58) have added 20 off 32 balls as New Zealand is crawling at the moment.

NZ 94/5 in 30 overs: Colin de Grandhomme just makes it in the fourth ball of the over, giving the Black Caps a sigh of relief. He drops it to cover-point and sets off for a single. A direct hit from the fielder and it looked out in real-time but the third umpire carefully examines and CDG escapes by a whisker. A direct hit from Shadab but New Zealand survives this. A run-out is the last thing the Kiwis want now.

NZ 86/5 in 28 overs: Colin de Grandhomme and James Neesham wouldn't have hoped to be in this situation. It is now on their shoulders to guide New Zealand to a total of little repute. Wahab Riaz, meanwhile, has been on top of his skill. He has been bowling at almost 140 clicks today.

As Pakistan ripped through the New Zealand top order, the memories of 1992 comes back. Ayan Acharya pens it down here.

NZ 83/5 in 26.2 overs: Kane Williamson departs. The 37-run stand is broken by Shadab Khan. It is one of those days when Sarfaraz Khan cannot be kept away from the game. A leg break from Shadab and Williamson gets forward but only manages a faint edge and the decibel levels in Birmingham has reached a crescendo. Williamson managed 41 off 69 balls with four boundaries.

This is how the semifinal qualification scenario looked like before the start of today's match.

NZ 77/4 in 24 overs: Wahab gets through a tidy over, just one run off it. Between the over the umpire did had a look of the danger area. Riaz needs to be careful in his next overs as Neesham and Williamson rebuild for New Zealand.

NZ 74/4 in 22 overs: Shadab Khan and Wahab Riaz bowling in tandem haven't been on the mark. 10 runs in 2 overs with Williamson almost playing on one off Riaz but ended up getting a boundary.

NZ 64/4 in 20 overs: James Neesham (11 off 28 balls) and Kane Williamson (30 off 49 balls) have added 18 runs off 45 balls as New Zealand's ship is steadied a bit. The last five overs have yielded just 16 runs, a contrast into what the earlier five had given -- just four.

NZ 53/4 in 17 overs: Another miserly over from Pakistan as New Zealand is wobbling around, trying to fix their early collapse. It has been 58 balls since the last boundary was scored -- gives us an insight of how accurate the Pakistan bowlers have been.

Number crunching: The last five overs have produced just four runs. This is exceptional bowling from Pakistan.

NZ 48/4 in 15 overs: Shaheen Afridi is breathing fire. He is bowling top-notch and with figures of 6-3-9-3, he is just dictating the terms with immense precision and talent. He sticks to the off stump line and with the batsmen extra cautious, he gets another maiden over.

NZ 48/4 in 14 overs: James Neesham and Kane Williamson are in the middle. Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Hafeez bowling in tandem. Afridi has figures of 5-2-9-3.

NZ 46/4 in 12.3 overs: And it gets more interesting! Shaheen Afridi sends Tom Latham back for 1 and New Zealand in trouble at 46/4. Latham looks to defend a back of a length delivery from Afridi and gets an edge and Sarfaraz does the rest.

NZ 45/3 in 12 overs: One run off 12 balls after the loss of a wicket. Pakistan has kept it neat and clean while New Zealand looks to steady the wobbling ship. It is an interesting phase, two players battling for survival while a team bowling with their tails up!

NZ 44/3 in 10 overs: End of the first power play. It is safe to say Pakistan has dominated and has the upper hand.

Tom Latham and Kane Williamson have a job on hand.

NZ 38/3 in 9 overs: Shaheen Afridi strikes again. Three overs and two wickets and New Zealand is rocked early. Ross Taylor tried to just dab it down on the front and gets a thick outside edge and Sarfaraz Ahmed plucks it just infront of first slip, with one hand. What a catch!

NZ 34/2 in 8 overs: Williamson takes on Amir. First ball of the eight over is a tad overpitched one from Amir and a gorgeous drive from Williamson between covers and mid-off seals the deal. The next ball, Williamson stays back and punches through cover point for a boundary. 10 runs off the over.

NZ 24/2 in 6.2 overs: Shaheen Afridi strikes. Colin Munro departs and New Zealand is rocked early. A full-ish delivery from Afridi, Munro commits to the drive, his feet not moving and can only manage an edge and Haris Sohail at first slip takes an easy catch.

NZ 22/1 in 5 overs: Just the one boundary off the over. Afridi sends one down the leg to Kane Williamson and the batsman flicks it expertly to the deep square leg boundary.

Shaheen Afridi into the attack and we have some issues with the sightscreen.

An Pakistan fan points out the similarities between the team's 1992 and 2019 campaigns.   -  Reuters

 

NZ 18/1 in 4 overs: Mohammad Hafeez gives away just two runs but Munro takes Amir for a couple of boundaries in the next over. A back of a length delivery from Amir and Munro punches it for four and the next ball, an over pitched one, deserved the treatment.

NZ 6/1 in 2 overs: One run, one wicket in the over. A great start from Pakistan. Amir beats Williamson, yorks him and keeps him on his feet.

NZ 5/1 in 1.1 overs: Mohammad Amir castles Martin Guptill. What a start for Pakistan. It was fuller, outside off and Guptill plays on, trying to drive the ball on the up. The decibel levels at Birmingham has reached peak levels. Kane Williamson joins Colim Munro.

Mohammad Amir from the other end.

NZ 5/0 in 1 over: Extra turn for the spinner. Pakistan would love to exploit that. One run added after a boundary off the first ball. Hafeez had the batsmen guessing.

NZ 4/0 in 0.1 overs: What a start for New Zealand. Guptill gets on one knee and sweeps it to the backward sqaure leg area for four.

Pakistan starts with spin. Mohammed Hafeez will open the bowling. Martin Guptill and Colin Munro are in all readiness. Guptill takes first strike.

The teams are walking out and it is time for the National Anthems. Pakistan's anthem first and then followed by New Zealand.

Playing XIs:

Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed (wk and cap), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir and Shaheen Afridi.

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (cap), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson and Trent Boult.

Team news: New Zealand and Pakistan are playing an unchanged team. It is for the fifth game in a row that New Zealand is playing the same team.

TOSS UPDATE: New Zealand wins toss and Kane Williamson says the Kiwis will bat first.

New Zealand needs just one win to seal a semifinal berth and Pakistan is in a must-win situation to keep its chances alive.

New Zealand are sitting pretty at the second spot in the 10-team standings with 11 points from six games.

Pakistan, on the other hand, have just five points from six matches

So here is the update. The toss will happen at 3.30 pm and play will start at 4 pm. What's more - we will have a full 50-over game.

The match officials are out and are having a chat. Paul Reiffel and Bruce Oxenford are having an animated discussion. Marais Erasmus joins the umpires conference and has a word with the groundsmen.

The captains have walked out to inspect the 22-yards.

We have some good news. The covers are out and the teams are warming up.

Toss delayed due to wet outfield. There is an inspection at 1500 hrs IST.

A win for Pakistan will be welcome, as it has been under pressure, especially after its defeat to India. Captain Sarfaraz Ahmed has urged fans not to direct abuse at the players.

The Preview

Pakistan, chalking out plans for high-flying Kiwis

Riding high on confidence after a much-needed win over South Africa, a buoyant Pakistan will take on New Zealand in a World Cup fixture at Edgbaston on Wednesday.

With two wins and three losses, Pakistan has five points in six games and needs to win all its remaining three fixtures to retain any chances of making it to the semifinals.

The Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side will have a mountain to climb against a rampaging New Zealand, which is unbeaten in the tournament and needs one win to confirm a last-four berth.

WATCH | World Cup 2019: Pakistan catching woeful despite win

With Kane Williamson leading from the front, New Zealand has comfortably dealt with all the challenges – including those faced in the two close encounters against South Africa and the West Indies.

New Zealand Team Profile

Seasoned campaigner Ross Taylor, too, has been among the runs, but opening remains an area of concern as Colin Munro and Martin Guptill are yet to capitalise on their good starts.

Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson have marshalled the bowling unit with all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme lending a helping hand.

Pakistan Team Profile

Squad:

New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson(c), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham(w), James Neesham, Colin de Grandhomme, Mitchell Santner, Matt Henry, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, Henry Nicholls, Tim Southee, Tom Blundell, Ish Sodhi

Pakistan: Imam-ul-Haq, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, Sarfaraz Ahmed(w/c), Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Wahab Riaz, Mohammad Amir, Shaheen Afridi, Asif Ali, Shoaib Malik, Hasan Ali, Mohammad Hasnain

 

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Pakistan bowling coach Mahmood questions NZ toughness ahead of crucial match

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood questioned New Zealand’s ability to win the biggest matches ahead of Wednesday’s World Cup clash in Birmingham.

Kane Williamson’s side is unbeaten at the tournament in England and Wales, with five wins in six games, plus one no result.

In contrast, Pakistan must win the match at Edgbaston if it is to retain a realistic chance of reaching the semifinals after a poor start to the tournament in England and Wales.

Fixtures and Results

Mahmood, a former all-rounder who played in three World Cups for Pakistan, said New Zealand had a good record early in tournaments but often wilted under pressure at the business end.

“New Zealand’s history is such that they get there winning, winning and then when a crunch situation comes up, in the semifinal, or quarterfinal, they don’t do that well,” Mahmood said on Tuesday.

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Mohsin Khan tipped to return as chief selector or team manager of Pakistan

Former Test batsman Mohsin Hasan Khan is set to return to an important role in Pakistan cricket, either as chief selector or national team manager, after the World Cup ends, said a person familiar with the matter.

Khan, 64, had recently stepped down as head of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s cricket committee.

Points Table

The PCB has announced that its cricket committee, which had been dormant until now, will hold an inquiry into the performances of the team and support staff over the last years and make recommendations to the chairman and board of governors.

WATCH: Pakistan catching woeful despite win

Managing director, Wasim Khan, who head the cricket committee, has started the process of making changes in the board, with a new selection committee and team management expected to be announced after the World Cup.

Some former Test players have, however, advised the PCB not to rely on old faces when making changes.

“Mohsin bhai is a respected figure, but (it) wouldn’t be a bad idea to also look at some fresh faces,” Abdul Razzaq said.

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Learn to emulate 'idol' Kohli: Shoaib Akhtar's advice to Babar Azam

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar, on Monday, said Virat Kohli fan Babar Azam should learn to play like his “idol” and convert good starts into big knocks by adapting to match situations.

Akhtar said while Azam has been scoring crucial runs for Pakistan, he fails to go the full distance. “I would like to tell Babar Azam that when you consider Virat Kohli your idol then you should also learn to play like him. Virat has scored runs in very difficult situations. Babar should learn to take singles like Virat, learn to improvise like him,” Akhtar said in a video posted on his YouTube channel.

“If you look at players like Virat, Rohit Sharma, Kane Williamson... all these guys accelerate their scoring after reaching fifty. Babar should learn from them. He should have more range of shots,” he added.

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Mickey Arthur: ‘Wanted to commit suicide after India loss’

Pakistan head coach Mickey Arthur has claimed that he was feeling so low and disappointed after his team’s loss to India in the ongoing World Cup that he wanted to “commit suicide”.

On June 16 at the Old Trafford in Manchester, Pakistan had to face an embarrassing 89-run loss (D/L method) against arch-rival India. This was their seventh loss against the Men in Blue in all the editions of the World Cups.

The entire team, including skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed and the team management, had drawn a lot of flak from former cricketers and fans on social media.

“Last Sunday I wanted to commit suicide,” Arthur said at the post-match press conference after the Proteas game at the Lord’s on Sunday. “But it was, you know, it’s only one performance.

“It happens so quick. You lose a game; you lose another game; it’s a World Cup; media scrutiny; public expectation, and then you almost go into sort of survival mode. We’ve all been there,” he added.

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Tournament so Far

New Zealand were run close by West Indies on Saturday, with Carlos Brathwaite's last-over dismissal clinching victory.

They were also involved in tense finishes against Bangladesh and South Africa at The Oval and Edgbaston respectively, though had few problems dealing with Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.

Pakistan, meanwhile, are mounting a recovery mission following their difficult start to the tournament.

Sarfraz's side followed up their opening defeat to West Indies by upsetting hosts England, but successive defeats to Australia and India left them needing two points against South Africa to keep themselves in with chance.

What They Said

Mitchell Santner on Kane Williamson's performances: "He's coming off two centuries, and the one against South Africa was pretty special. It didn't look as fluid, his innings, but that's what made it so good. He was there at the end when we needed him. Obviously it was his highest score in ODI cricket."

Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood on facing New Zealand: They're definitely a very strong side. They won all of their games, so we know they're a strong side. If we can get our disciplines right, like we did last game - batting, bowling, and fielding - our ground fielding was really good, but unfortunately we dropped a lot of catches - we can beat any side."

Facts

- Pakistan picked up a six-wicket win in their last ODI clash with New Zealand in November, ending a 12-game losing streak against the Black Caps.

- This will be the ninth World Cup meeting between New Zealand and Pakistan, who won six in a row between 1983 and 1999.

- New Zealand have won four of their seven completed ODI fixtures at Edgbaston, including a four-wicket victory over South Africa in this tournament.

- Ross Taylor is set to eclipse Nathan Astle (223) as the fifth-most capped player for New Zealand in ODI history.

The match will be streamed Live on Hotstar