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08 December 201422:56

Sohail, Afridi steer Pakistan to three-wicket win

Team recovers from top-order collapse for three-wicket win in first ODI, after New Zealand posts 246 for 7 on Taylor's ton

Sohail, Afridi steer Pakistan to three-wicket win - Cricket News

Haris Sohail (R) and Shahid Afridi added 110 off 105 deliveries – the highest seventh-wicket partnership at the ground – to hand Pakistan a three-wicket victory.

The small crowd that came to watch the first One-Day International between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Dubai International Stadium was treated to an enthralling contest as Haris Sohail and Shahid Afridi carried their side home with a record-breaking seventh-wicket partnership on Monday (December 8).

Sohail and Afridi added 110 off 105 deliveries – the highest seventh-wicket partnership at the ground – to hand Pakistan an improbable three-wicket victory on a day when both teams faced a top-order collapse.

Sohail, who deservingly smashed the winning runs, remained unbeaten on 85 off 109 balls, while Afridi played the supporting role with an uncharacteristic, less explosive knock of 61 off 51 balls.

The Pakistan chase had got off to a sluggish start, with Kyle Mills bowling back-to-back maiden overs upfront, and Adam Milne providing the perfect support to restrict the team to just one run in the first three overs.

Unable to cut loose, Mohammad Hafeez fell first, failing to read a Mills in-cutter that went past his defence to hit the top of the off stump.

Asad Shafiq (5) and Ahmed Shehzad hung around for a while, but even as Shehzad managed to find the fence on a couple of occasions, Shafiq never looked comfortable, finally getting caught at point off James Neesham’s first over.

Shehzad, who hit five fours in his 41-ball knock of 28, was trapped leg before seven balls later as Pakistan was reduced to 40 for 3 in 12.5 overs.

Younis Khan, who returned to the ODI setup after a brilliant show in Test cricket over the past month, failed to carry his form into the match, falling for four. Misbah-ul-Haq, the captain, didn't last long either, brilliantly caught by Vettori at long on.

Sarfraz Ahmed, batting at No. 7, then joined Haris Sohail to script a 19-ball 26 before being dismissed playing yet another adventurous shot with Pakistan still 123 runs away from its target, and with just four wickets in hand.

This brought Sohail and Shahid Afridi together, and what followed was nothing short of a miracle.

Afridi, who struck his 37th ODI fifty, was dismissed in the 48th over, but had by then done enough to ensure a victory for his team.

Earlier, a gritty century from Ross Taylor (105 off 135 balls) helped New Zealand post a respectable total of 246 for 7 despite a shaky start that made it look like it might even struggle to go past 200.

Having put New Zealand in to bat, Pakistan’s three-man pace attack in the form of Mohammad Irfan, Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz stuck to a disciplined line and length, giving away just 19 runs off the first five overs.

The pressure started to show on Dean Brownlie and Anton Devcich, the New Zealand openers, as they started fishing for deliveries outside the line to get the run-rate going. In the end, Brownlie fell prey chasing a wide delivery played towards Ahmed Shehzad, who took a brilliant catch at point to give the hosts the first breakthrough.

It was not long before Williamson and Devcich followed suit, both dismissed by Irfan, who was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers.

Once again, it was up to the experienced Taylor to pull his side out of the rut.

But even as Taylor tried to consolidate, wickets tumbled at the other end, leaving the side tottering at 111 for 5 in the 29th over.

This brought Luke Ronchi and Taylor together, and they put together a sixth-wicket stand of 44 off 57 balls to form the first significant partnership of the day.

Daniel Vettori then helped Taylor, whose innings was studded with nine boundaries and a six, take New Zealand past the 200-run mark as the duo added 58 runs off 48 balls for the seventh wicket.

Pakistan lead the five-match ODI series 1-0. The sides earlier drew both the three-Test series and the two-match T20I series 1-1.

To review the Pakistan v New Zealand match in full, please click here.