A swashbuckling century from Fakhar Zaman (126 n.o., 81b, 8x4, 11x6) helped Pakistan defeat New Zealand by 21 runs (DLS method) and keep alive its hopes of making the World Cup semifinals.
At the break on Saturday, New Zealand would have been at ease, having recorded 401 for six, the highest total at the M. Chinnaswamy Stadium. But a blistering counter-attack from Zaman and a steady half-century from skipper Babar Azam (66 n.o., 63b, 6x4, 2x6) meant Pakistan had its nose in front in a game thrice interrupted by rain.
AS IT HAPPENED: New Zealand vs Pakistan Highlights
Zaman hit as many as 11 sixes, one bigger than the other, and all except one whacked into the stands on the leg-side. The 33-year-old was more egalitarian in his collection of boundaries, with the eight split equally either side.
This splendid knock was punctuated by a 90-minute rain break. Pakistan was at 160 for one after 21.3 overs, but the target was revised to a steep 342 from 41. However, the Men in Green chugged along merrily, with Babar getting to his fifty with a four past short-fine, then launching Ish Sodhi over long-on and Zaman smashing the leggie over mid-wicket for the last of his giant sixes.
The Black Caps desperately needed a wicket, but another spell of rain three balls into the 26th over ended up prolonging their wait for a last-four berth.
But for much of the day, the over 20,000-strong crowd would have believed that the 180-run partnership between Rachin Ravindra (108, 94b, 15x4, 1x6) and the returning Kane Williamson (95, 79b, 10x4, 2x6) would be game-defining.
Babar chose to field, perhaps with an eye on the weather. With his spinners woefully out of form, he went in with four pacers but Shaheen Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf collectively bled 257 runs.
MATCH SCORES: New Zealand vs Pakistan full scorecard
Ravindra, watched on by his Bengaluru-based extended family members, started with an elegant glance to the fine-leg boundary. If that was the appetiser, the main course was classy and the dessert sumptuous. He cover-drove to perfection and picked bowlers off his legs superbly, with the towering six over mid-wicket off Rauf to bring up New Zealand’s 200 his stand-out shot.
Williamson was more workmanlike. Two of his first three boundaries were edged but he unlocked areas of the ground like no other, with the lofted six off tweaker Agha Salman the most eye-catching.
Though the duo fell in quick succession, the quartet of Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips and Mitchell Santner added 135 runs at over 140. Little did they know that Zaman and the weather had other ideas.
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