Kane Williamson hit a brilliant 123 as New Zealand staved off Pakistan’s spirited challenge to eke out a series-leveling seven-run victory in the fourth one-day international in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
Williamson’s fourth ODI century helped New Zealand post 299-5, but Younus Khan hit 103 and Shahid Afridi blasted 49 runs off 25 deliveries as Pakistan looked very much in the hunt before eventually finishing on 292-8.
There was uncertainty over whether the match would be played following the attack by Taliban gunmen on a school in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday that killed at least 132 students.
It eventually got under way with players and match officials wearing black armbands and observing two minutes’ silence before Williamson won the toss and decided to bat at the Sheikh Zayed Cricket Stadium.
An 81-run opening stand between Martin Guptill (58) and Dean Brownlie (42) gave the Kiwis a perfect start.
Pakistan captain Afridi broke the partnership when Umar Akmal took a diving catch at short midwicket to dismiss Brownlie.
Sohail Tanvir dismissed Guptill, but stand-in captain Williamson led from the front, adding 63 runs with Ross Taylor (26) and 72 with Tom Latham (14 not out) as he completed his century in 92 deliveries.
New Zealand hit 91 runs off the final 10 overs of their innings and finished just shy of 300 as Mohammad Irfan ended Williamson’s 105-ball knock, which included 12 boundaries, with the final delivery of the innings.
Pakistan lost opener Ahmed Shehzad for a duck in the first over of their innings and looked in trouble at 82-4, but Younus added 91 runs with Akmal (29) and 66 with Afridi to revive the chase.
Afridi fell in the 44th over, leaving Pakistan needing 62 runs off 41 deliveries, but Daniel Vettori then sent down a tight over in which he also dismissed Younus.
Down the order, Anwar Ali scored 20 not out from 13 deliveries, but Pakistan could not score the 16 runs they needed off the last over to seal the series they led 2-1 going into the contest.
Both teams remianed in Abu Dhabi for the fifth and final match today.
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