Fast bowler Naseem Shah picked up five wickets before the trio of Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan all scored half-centuries as Pakistan chased down a target of 256 for a six-wicket win over New Zealand in the first one-dayer on Monday.
Opener Zaman (56) and captain Babar (66) stitched together a partnership of 78 runs, with Rizwan then scoring an unbeaten 77 off 86 balls to guide Pakistan over the finish line and help them take a 1-0 lead in the threematch series.
Michael Bracewell was the pick of the bowlers for New Zealand, dismissing Zaman and Imam-ul Haq, with Tim Southee and Glenn Phillips also taking a wicket apiece.
But it was 19-year-old Naseem who stole the limelight on Monday.The pacer picked up his second five-wicket haul in international cricket to help Pakistan restrict New Zealand to 255/9 after putting their opponents in to bat at Karachi’s National Stadium.
“A good performance is fun only when the team wins.Everyone bowled well.It was reversing, and I just bowled to my strength,” Shah said.
None of New Zealand’s batters were able to build on their starts, with Tom Latham (42) and Bracewell (43) leading the scoring for the visitors.
Spinner Usama Mir had a debut to remember, taking the wickets of Kane Williamson and Latham.
Babar lauded his bowlers, reserving special praise for his pacers.“We utilised the new ball, and fast bowlers executed the plan.All the credit goes to them,” the Pakistan captain said.
“It is good to have options Rizwan finishes job after Naseem fifer as a captain, and I have a lot of them in terms of fast bowlers as well as spinners.”
For their chase, Babar credited Rizwan for providing the finishing touches.“We knew it would be cold, and there would be dew…It was difficult for a new batter coming in…In the end, Rizwan was outstanding,” he said.
New Zealand skipper Williamson thought they were a few runs short of the ideal total.
“We would have liked a few runs..(But) Pakistan were clinical with the ball,” he said.
Though he agreed that the toss had an impact on the game, he declined to use it as an excuse for their loss.“There were glimpses where the game could have changed.Pakistan adapted better.There were a number of mid-partnerships, but not one went on.”
The second ODI of the series will be held at the same venue on Wednesday.
Written with inputs from Reuters