PAK vs NZ: New Zealand register 47-run win in final ODI to avoid whitewash
In the fifth ODI match between Pakistan and New Zealand on Sunday, Iftikhar Ahmed scored an impressive unbeaten 94. Unfortunately, it was not enough to secure a victory for Pakistan, as they lost by 47 runs. This win allowed Tom Latham-led New Zealand to avoid a whitewash in the five-match series. Despite the loss, Pakistan still won the series 4-1. However, Pakistan lost their place as the No.1 ranked ODI side in the world and slipped to third in the rankings.
Babar Azam, who was playing his 100th ODI, was dismissed for just one run, contributing to Pakistan’s lowest total of the series – 252 all out in 46.1 overs. New Zealand’s innings was anchored by half-centuries from Will Young (87) and captain Tom Latham (59), with Latham deciding to bat first for the first time after winning his third successive toss of the series. Pakistan’s top-order faltered for the first time in the series, despite a valiant effort from Iftikhar Ahmed who narrowly missed out on his maiden ODI century.
After losing four top-order batsmen, Iftikhar and Salman Ali Agha steadied the ship with a 97-run stand for the fifth wicket. Salman scored a run-a-ball 57, including six fours and a six, before falling to Henry Shipley’s bowling. Iftikhar continued to fight for Pakistan’s chances with partnerships of 30 runs with Shadab Khan and 23 runs with Usama Mir.
But his efforts were in vain as Pakistan’s required run rate kept rising. Iftikhar remained unbeaten, hitting eight fours and two sixes in his 72-ball innings. His performance showcased his capacity to solve Pakistan’s middle-order batting woes.
Shipley and left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra took three wickets each. It was Iftikhar’s second successive half-century, and he proved himself capable of scoring boundaries with powerful shots while also keeping the scoreboard ticking with intelligent nudges.
In the match, Pakistan’s bowlers put up a good performance to restrict New Zealand’s top-order batsmen. Young was dismissed by Usama Mir and Shadab Khan, who took four wickets between them. Mohammad Rizwan caught Mark Chapman off a delivery by Shadab Khan, after he attempted to accelerate with Latham.
Mir also got the wickets of Nicholls and skipper Tom Latham before Pakistan’s pacers bowled brilliantly in the slog overs. Despite small contributions from Ravindra and McConchie, Pakistan claimed five wickets for just 32 runs in the last five overs thanks to Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf’s tight bowling.