Fakhar Zaman and captain Babar Azam starred as Pakistan pulled off a dramatic, rain-hit 21-run victory over New Zealand to stay alive at the Cricket World Cup.
After New Zealand had piled up a mammoth 401-6 in the match on Saturday in Bengaluru, Pakistan were 160-1 in the 21st over when rain brought a stoppage.
Set a revised target of 342 off 41 overs, Zaman had moved to 126 and Azam was on 66 with their team on 200-1 in the 26th over when the rain returned, this time bringing the game to an end and Pakistan declared the winners as they were ahead of the required rate.
Pakistan and New Zealand both have eight points and remain in contention for semifinal spots with a match each left to play in the group stage.
India and South Africa have already wrapped up two of the semifinal places. That has left Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the race for the final two spots.
Earlier, Rachin Ravindra smashed his third ton of the World Cup while a fit-again Kane Williamson made up for lost time with a 95 as New Zealand posted a commanding 401-6 from 50 overs.
Ravindra, who was born in Wellington to Indian parents from Bengaluru, delighted the local fans with measured stroke play and provided moments of magic to go past 500 runs in the World Cup with a 94-ball 108 that included 15 fours and a six.
The 23-year-old stitched together a 180-run partnership with captain Williamson while Daryl Mitchell (29), Mark Chapman (39), Glenn Phillips (41) and Mitchell Santner (26 not out) fired to swell the New Zealand total to 401-6 in 50 overs.
Babar’s decision to bowl first after winning the toss had raised some eyebrows as New Zealand made a fiery start at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium with opening batsmen Devon Conway and Ravindra dominating the powerplay.
Hasan Ali, who replaced Usama Mir to give the 1992 champions an extra pace option, had Conway caught behind for 35 to end the pair’s 68-run stand and bring Williamson to the wicket.
Playing his first match since sustaining a fractured thumb against Bangladesh last month, Williamson toyed with the bowlers and provided the perfect foil to Ravindra before cutting loose, having made his second half-century of the tournament.
Williamson fell to Iftikhar Ahmed while going for his third six before Ravindra was dismissed by Mohammad Wasim (3-60), but 2019 runners-up New Zealand would heap more misery on Pakistan, only to suffer disappointment later.
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.
Pakistan skipper Babar was in good spirits after the match.
“When we came into the dressing room [after the first innings], we passed on the message that we needed one good partnership. I told Fakhar that he needs to bat till the end, so all credit to Fakhar,” he said.
“We tried to give our 100 percent, but a few matches we were not up the mark. We have got some momentum now from the Bangladesh match and today. We are taking it match by match, and we will try our best to play positive cricket [for the remainder of the tournament].”
Williamson was magnanimous in defeat.
“The ground wasn’t big enough for Fakhar, and he played an exceptional knock. [We] just need to take the positives into the next match,” he said.
“They gave themselves every chance. I suppose having the match shortened brings both teams closer together, but they were certainly on target for their chase.”
“Would have been nice to have the full 50 [overs]. Full credit to them as they deserved their result today.”