Birmingham: Pakistan remained alive in their fight for fourth place after chasing down a target of 238 to beat New Zealand by six wickets at Edgbaston on Wednesday.
Babar Azam produced a sublime unbeaten century under pressure as the men in green continued their revival in the World Cup by halting New Zealand’s unbeaten run.
Chasing a tricky target of 238, Fakhar Zaman (9) and Imam-ul-Haq (19) were dismissed early leaving their side in a troublesome position at 44/2.
Babar Azam, who became the second fastest man behind South Africa’s Hashim Amla to reach 3,000 ODI runs, steadied the ship and stitched a crucial 66-run partnership with Mohammad Hafeez (32).
Hafeez’s departure allowed NZ to apply the pressure but Haris Sohail along with Azam took their time and did not allow any further damage.
While Azam went on to score a hundred of the highest order, Sohail, on the other end, played his part with a quality fifty.
Earlier, Pakistan pacer Shaheen Afridi rattled the top and middle order in a fiery spell but combative half-centuries from James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme helped New Zealand post 237/6.
Reduced to 83/5 after electing to bat, New Zealand looked up to skipper Kane Williamson for yet another rescue act but it was Neesham (97 not out) and de Grandhomme (64), who revived the Kiwi innings with their 132-run partnership.
Mohammad Amir drew first blood removing Martin Guptill, but it was Shaheen Afridi who caused New Zealand s batting collapse at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Wednesday.
Afridi did not give an inch to Kiwi batsman. He broke the back of the BlackCaps batting order taking the wickets of Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, and Tom Latham.