Newcomer Haris Sohail batted with maturity to claim his maiden one-day international half-century and steer Pakistan to a three-wicket win in the first day-night international against New Zealand in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on Monday.
The 25-year-old left-hander scored 85 off 109 balls and added 110 for the seventh wicket with veteran Shahid Afridi, who hit a 51-ball 61, to rescue Pakistan from a precarious 124-6 and grab a 1-0 lead in the five-match series.
Pakistan, set a daunting 247-run target, were struggling at 40-3 before Sohail added 34 with skipper Misbah-ul-Haq (13) and 38 with Sarfraz Ahmed (26) to steady the innings.
With just 13 needed at a run-a-ball Afridi was run out, but Sohail hit Jimmy Neesham for his fifth boundary to seal the win with three balls to spare.
Afridi hit seven fours and a six in his 37th one-day international half-century.
Earlier, Ross Taylor became the sixth batsman, and first from his country, to score three centuries in consecutive matches to lift New Zealand to 246-7.
Pakistan’s Zaheer Abbas and Saeed Anwar, and South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs, A.B. de Villiers and Quinton de Kock have also achieved the feat.
Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals, with Mohammad Hafeez (6), Asad Shafiq (5), Ahmed Shehzad (28) and Younis Khan (4) trudging back to the pavilion with the score barely passing 50.
Paceman Kyle Mills gave New Zealand the breakthrough in the fifth over, bowling Hafeez, before Daniel Vettori struck twice and Neesham once, but Sohail and Afridi rescued Pakistan.
Misbah admitted that it had been a difficult match.
“It was very tough. Full marks to the way Sohail and Afridi batted and rescued us,” Misbah said.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson felt his team did not capitalize on Taylor’s century.
“I think on the back of Ross’s superb knock we had a reasonable total on the board, but it’s a shame we didn’t do the job well with the ball and Pakistan’s middle order came good,” Williamson said.
Earlier, Taylor had held together the New Zealand innings after Mohammad Irfan (three for 57) had inflicted serious damage on the top order.
Taylor added 58 for the seventh wicket with former captain Vettori (27) in the final overs after steadying the innings during a 44-run sixth-wicket stand with Luke Ronchi, who made 23.
Irfan dismissed opener Dean Brownlie (14) and skipper Kane Williamson (10) in his first five-over spell, before returning to take Ronchi’s wicket in the 38th over.
Tom Latham was run out for 13 and Neesham was trapped leg before wicket by Afridi for 1 as New Zealand were left struggling at 111-5.
Paceman Wahab Riaz claimed the wickets of opener Anton Devcich (26) and Vettori to finish with two for 51, but Taylor kept one end intact, reaching his 27th one-day half-century with a single.
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