Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo
Pakistan batsman Babar Azam struck an unbeaten 101 to lead his side to a six-wicket win over New Zealand at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Azam’s knock not only kept Pakistan’s hopes of qualifying for the World Cup semi-finals alive, but also handed New Zealand their first loss in the tournament.
Opting to bat first, New Zealand got off to a horrible start as opener Martin Guptill was clean bowled by Mohammad Amir on the seventh ball of the match for five runs.
Colin Munro, who opened the batting with Guptill, only scored 12 runs before he was caught by Haris Sohail at first slip off the bowling of Shaheen Shah Afridi.
Afridi then took out Ross Taylor and Tom Latham before New Zealand captain Kane Williamson was caught behind off the bowling of Shadab Khan for 41.
James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme halted Pakistan’s charge with a 132-run partnership, during which both batsmen surpassed their half-centuries.
De Grandhomme ended up making 64, which came off 71 balls and included six boundaries and a six, before he was run out.
With Neesham going on to score a career-best 97 not out, which came off 112 deliveries and included five boundaries and three sixes, New Zealand finished on 237/6.
Afridi was the pick of the bowlers with three wickets, while Amir and Shadab chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 238 to win, Pakistan lost opener Fakhar Zaman early on as he was caught by Guptill at point off the bowling of Trent Boult for nine runs.
Imam-ul-Haq mustered 19 runs before he was caught by Guptill at point off the bowling of Lockie Ferguson.
Azam and Mohammad Hafeez stabilised the innings with a 66-run partnership before Hafeez was dismissed by Williamson for 32.
Azam and Sohail kept the runs flowing with a 126-run stand, during which Azam brought up his hundred and Haris his fifty, before Haris was run out by Guptill for a 76-ball 68, which included five boundaries and two sixes.
Azam went on to score an unbeaten 101, which came off 127 balls and included 11 boundaries, as Pakistan won with five balls to spare.
Boult, Ferguson and Williamson claimed one wicket each.
Azam was named Man of the Match.