DUBAI - Shahid Afridi and Haris Sohail’s 110-run 7th wicket stand helped Pakistan to inflict highly unlikely 3-wicket victory against Black Caps in the first One Day International played here at Dubai International cricket stadium on Monday.

Pakistan were almost gone and out losing six wickets with only 124 runs on the board and Haris playing very cautiously. But as soon as Boom Boom Afridi arrives at the crease the whole complexion of the match changed. He batted with authority and very sensibly and took time before hitting some lusty blows and ensured Pakistan remained in the hunt. Haris equally supported Afridi and kept the asking rate well under control.

Afridi especially played with lot of character and showed maturity but he ran himself out when Pakistan were almost at the brink after scoring match-winning 61 of 51 deliveries, hitting 7 fours and 1 six. Haris remained unbeaten at 85, consuming 109 balls and hitting 5 boundaries and 1 six as Pakistan reached home with three balls to spare. Vettori was the most successful Kiwi bowler with 2 for 40 while Neesham also grabbed 2 wickets costing 62 runs.

Pakistan got off to worst possible start losing Hafeez at total of 13, Asad Shafiq at 40 and Ahmed Shahzad at same score of 40 as Pakistan were reduced to 40 for 3. Younus Khan also departed soon as Pakistan were struggling at 52-4 in 17.2 overs. Pakistanis looked very nervous and it seemed they were unable to face even ordinary bowling, which was offered by Kiwi pacers.

Vettori took a blinder to send captain Misbahul Haq packing and with him Pakistani hopes faded. Pakistani fielding coach must closely look at Kiwis fielding and taught Pakistanis how to field. The main difference between both teams was players’ commitment and determination which was completely missing from Pakistanis.

Earlier, after being sent into bat, helped by a sensational unbeaten 105 by Ross Taylor, New Zealand punished Pakistani bowlers at will. Taylor built his innings in style and played with lot of patience and commitment and never looked in a hurry and helped New Zealand post a very decent target of 246 for the loss of 7 wickets in 50 overs.

As per expectations, Misbah after winning the toss opted to play safe and invited New Zealand to bat first. New Zealand started their innings very cautiously and lost first wicket at 26 when Ahmed Shahzad took a wonderful catch of the bowling of Irfan to get rid of Dean Brownline. Pakistan didn’t have to wait long for the second wicket as once again Irfan provided the breakthrough. Willamson trying to hit a short pitch delivery out of the park was caught behind by Sarfraz. Pakistan could easily had third Kiwi wicket as well as part time spinner Haris Sohail completely deceived Anton Devcich, who was beaten all hands up, but Sarfraz missed a sitter.

But Anton failed to get advantage and was finally out at 63. Pakistan got fourth wicket at 99 when Tom Latham was forced to take risky single and was run out. Fifth wicket fell at 111 as Jimmy Neesham was given LBW of the bowling of Afridi. Younus took a sensational running catch of Luke Ronchi as Kiwis were reduced to 155 for 6. Vettori hit quick-fire 27 before he was clean bowled by Wahab Riaz.

Irfan was the most successful bowler with 3 for 57 while Wahab Riaz also grabbed 2 for 51 and Afridi 1 for 36. Haris although failed to take a single wicket but bowled very well his full quota of overs conceding only 39 runs.

It was very disappointing crowd at the venue as hardly few spectators were witnessed in the major part of the first innings and all the stands were given deserted look. The PCB should have declared open for all so crowd could have gathered in numbers but poor policies prevented crowd from visiting the match. In the last T20, it was a very disappointing crowd as well, who although gathered in numbers but unnecessary security checks and poor arrangements were the main reason behind empty stands. Instead of taking lessons from the past experience and prepared better plan, the PCB kept on sleeping and empty stands are proof of their inability to manage the event. Now Pakistan would play next two matches in Sharjah and the PCB must ensure better planning to give “home crowd’ advantage to the team.

Scoreboard

NEW ZEALAND:

A Devcich c Ahmed b Riaz    26

D Brownlie c Shehzad b Irfan    14

K Williamson c Ahmed b Irfan    10

R Tylor not out    105

T Latham run out    13

J Neesham lbw b Afridi    1

L Ronchi c Younus b Irfan    23

D Vettori b Riaz    27

N McCullum not out    13

EXTRAS: (b1, lb4, nb1 w8)    14

TOTAL: (7 wkts; 50 overs)    246

FOW: 1-26, 2-44, 3-63, 4-99, 5-111, 6-155, 7-213

BOWLING: Gul 9-0-49-0, Irfan 10-1-57-3, Riaz 10-0-51-2, Sohail 10-0-39-0, Afridi 10-1-36-1, Shafiq 1-0-9-0

PAKISTAN:

M Hafeez b Mills    6

Ahmed Shehzad lbw b Vettori    28

Asad Shafiq c Devcich b Neesham    5

Younus Khan c Brownlie b Vettori    4

Haris Sohail not out    85

Misbah-ul Haq c Vettori b Neesham    13

Sarfraz Ahmed c Milne b McCullum    26

Shahid Afridi run out    61

Wahab Riaz not out    9

EXTRAS: (lb1, w12)    13

TOTAL: (7 wkts; 49.3 overs)    250

FOW: 1-13, 2-40, 3-40, 4-52, 5-86, 6-124, 7-234

BOWLING: Mills 10-2-54-1, Milne 10-0-42-0, Vettori 10-0-40-2, Neesham 9.3-0-62-2, McCullum 8-0-35-1, Devcich 2-0-16-0

TOSS: Pakistan

UMPIRES: Aleem Dar (PAK) and Joel Wilson (WIS)

TV UMPIRE: Richard Illingworth (ENG)

MATCH REFEREE: Roshan Mahanama (SRI)