Pakistan keep hopes alive as Fakhar Zaman inspires World Cup victory over New Zealand

Opener's century crucial to unlikely result in rain-affected match in Bengaluru

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Swashbuckling opener Fakhar Zaman cracked a blistering century to save Pakistan from World Cup elimination in a rain-affected and dramatic 21-run victory over New Zealand at Bengaluru on Saturday.

The 33-year-old left-hander smashed 11 sixes and eight boundaries in his unbeaten 81-ball 126 as rain forced a premature end to the match with Pakistan 200-1 after 25.3 overs, chasing a revised DLS target of 342 in 41 overs.

Rachin Ravindra hit his third century of the tournament while Kane Williamson scored 95 to help New Zealand pile up 401-6 in their 50 overs.

Set a mammoth 402-run target initially, Zaman lifted Pakistan to 160-1 after 21.3 overs before a 90-minute stoppage due to rain led to a revised target for Pakistan.

After the resumption, Zaman kept up the tempo, hitting three sixes off spinner Ish Sodhi's 25th over as Pakistan went past the 200-mark.

Pakistan had needed to overhaul the original target of 402 in 35.3 overs if they were to get beyond New Zealand's better net run-rate which could prove crucial in the battle for semi-final spots.

However, Abdullah Shafique fell for four in the second over. Zaman and skipper Babar Azam (66) added 194 for the unbroken second wicket stand.

Zaman took the attack to the New Zealand bowlers, smashing four sixes and as many boundaries in his 39-ball fifty.

He completed his 11th ODI hundred, and first in a World Cup, with a six and a single off Mitchell Santner. His century came off 63 balls with nine sixes and six boundaries.

Pakistan now have eight points from as many games with their last match against England in Kolkata on November 11.

They not only need to win that but also hope New Zealand lose to Sri Lanka on Thursday in Bengaluru at this same venue or the match is hit by rain.

“When we started batting, we believed [in ourselves]. Inside dressing room, we passed the message that we need one good partnership,” said Pakistan captain Azam. “Back of the mind, we knew rain was coming, but didn't expect it to be too much.

“To be honest, we just planned to build a partnership. I wanted to give strike to Fakhar; we knew we had short boundaries and we tried to utilise it.

“We were trying to give 100 per cent but in some matches we were not up to the mark. If we win our next match, let's see … we will try to play positively and we are going match by match.”

Williamson, his Black Caps counterpart, admitted it was a difficult defeat to process having earlier watched his side post a 400-plus target.

“Quite hard to get our heads around after getting that total, for us we will take the positives before the next game. I mean they played exceptionally well, gave themselves every chance and got over the line, they were certainly on target with their chase.

“Zaman played beautifully, they deserved that result today and for us it's about moving on to our next challenge.”

Updated: November 04, 2023, 3:44 PM