Babar Azam played the innings of his life as he produced a gritty century to help Pakistan defeat New Zealand by six wickets at Edgbaston in Birmingham on Wednesday. (New Zealand vs Pakistan Highlights).
Chasing 238 on a tricky wicket, Babar Azam (101) and Haris Sohail (68) starred for the Sarfaraz Ahmed-led side as they scripted a 126-run stand to see their team through. The victory was much-needed as a defeat could have potentially ended Pakistan’s campaign at the ICC World Cup 2019.
Earlier, the Pakistani bowlers gave their team a perfect start as Mohammed Amir got Martin Guptill out in the second over. But, it was Shaheen Afridi who was the real star os Pakistani bowling as he returned with the figure of 3/28 in his quota of 1o overs. Also, Shadab Khan bowled brilliantly and economically for his 1/43 in which he got the most important wicket of Kane Williamson.
Half of the Pakistani side were back in the pavilion for just 83 runs but a spirited century-partnership between James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme saw New Zealand post a challenging total of 237. Neesham was the anchor of Kiwi innings as he survived the initial onslaught of Pakistani bowlers to score 97 not out 112, while de Grandhomme partnered him in the perfect manner for his 64 off 71 balls.
Chasing, Pakistani openers showed intent as they timed a few of the balls to perfection. But they couldn’t hold the form for long as the Kiwi bowlers struck early to dismiss both the openers and restrict Pakistan for 44/2. Babar, joined by Mohammad Hafeez tried to steady the Pakistani innings as they built a partnership of 66 runs before the rookie Hafeez threw away his wicket to part-timer Kane Williamson.
Babar and Sohail then held their nerves to see off the fiery pace of Lockie Ferguson and vicious turn of Mitchell Santner. After settling in they started playing their shots and took out selective offense against the Kiwi bowlers. Sohail scored another half-century after scoring 89 against South Africa in the last match. But the real star was Babar Azam as he guided his team to the victory with a stupendous and flawless century.