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All-round Pakistan down New Zealand to clinch series opener




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After a stalemate in the Tests, Pakistan started the three-match ODI series with a convincing six-wicket win against New Zealand on January 9 The youngster Naseem Shah took five wickets to restrict New Zealand to 255/9 and then Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, and Mohammad Rizwan smashed fifties to guide Pakistan to a win with 11 balls remaining.

Pakistan skipper Babar won the toss and elected to bowl first at the National Bank Cricket Arena in Karachi. Henry Shipley made international debut for the Kiwis while the 27-year-old legspinner Usama Mir won his first cap for Pakistan. Naseem proved Babar’s decision at the toss correct as bowled out in-form Kiwi opener Devon Conway for a golden duck in the first over.

Fin Allen started positively and seemed settled but Agha Salman took a remarkable diving catch on Mohammad Wasim’s delivery in the eighth over to give Pakistan a flying start. However, it was debutant Usama, who put Pakistan in a dominant position with the valuable wicket of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson.

Williamson scored 26 off 39 before getting bowled by Usama’s unplayable delivery. Tom Latham, Daryl Mitchell, Michael Bracewell, and Glenn Phillips contributed with crucial knocks but failed to deliver impactful innings. Naseem took five wickets for 57, his second five-wicket haul, while Usama bagged with two wickets for 42.

Fakhar, Babar, Rizwan slam half-centuries

While chasing 256, Pakistan lost their star opener Imam-ul-Haq in the sixth over with just 30 runs on the board. But the returning star Fakhar Zaman and the world no.1 ODI batter Babar avoided further slip-ups with a defining 78-run partnership for the second wicket. Fakhar scored 56 runs off 74 balls before getting bowled out on Bracewell’s delivery.

But Babar continued to score runs from the other end and formed another meaningful partnership with Mohammad Rizwan. Babar scored crucial 66 off 82 before getting caught behind off Phillips. Rizwan then took a charge to drag Pakistan to the finish line and smashed his seventh ODI fifty, an unbeaten 77 off 86 with the help of six fours. For New Zealand, Bracewell took two wickets while Tim Southee and Phillips grabbed one each.

Here is how Twitter reacted to Pakistan’s easy win over New Zealand in the first ODI:

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