Innings Pakistan 287 for 6 (Imam 90, Babar 54, Henry 3-54) vs New Zealand
New Zealand finally won a toss, and Tom Latham put Pakistan in. Batting first, Pakistan are often more sedate than during a chase, and New Zealand’s early discipline with the ball amplified that. The first five overs produced just 12 runs on a blazing afternoon in Karachi, and while Zaman tried to force the issue thereafter, a Henry short ball got the better of him cheaply.
Babar and Imam have statistically been Pakistan’s most prolific pair in the past four years, and they got together for yet another edition of that today. They accumulated 107 runs for that second wicket, though it was precisely that – accumulation. The sense of urgency most modern teams have through the middle overs was somewhat missing, and while both players coasted to half-centuries, it was telling that Pakistan hadn’t assumed control by the time Henry had Babar drag one back onto his stumps.
Pakistan’s dependence on the top three- and general absence of huge power hitting at the death – meant Imam was crucial to a big finish, but he, too, would drag on to his stumps ten shy of a hundred, putting the onus of getting past 300 onto a vulnerable middle order. New Zealand began to pull things back as Abdullah Shafique and Agha Salman fell cheaply, and Adam Milne dismissed Mohammad Rizwan for 31 just when he looked essential to Pakistan’s death overs efforts.
However, it paved the way for Shadab Khan to come in. His quick cameo – an unbeaten 21 off 10 – suggested he’d come in a touch too late. A lovely six over mid-off off the final ball means Pakistan go in with a little bit of momentum behind them, as well as the hope they can wrap the series up here and now.