Imam head in­jury over­shad­ows Pak­istan tri­umph

The Borneo Post (Sabah) - - SPORT -

ABU DHABI: Pak­istan beat New Zealand by six wick­ets in the sec­ond day-night in­ter­na­tional in Abu Dhabi on Fri­day but the match was over­shad­owed by a wor­ry­ing in­jury to open­ing bats­man Imam-ul-Haq who was taken to hos­pi­tal af­ter be­ing hit on the head by a short ball.

Imam, on 16, was forced to re­tire af­ter a short de­liv­ery from fast bowler Lockie Fer­gu­son hit the grille of his hel­met, mak­ing him dizzy be­fore he fell to the ground.

His eyes were closed but he did not lose con­scious­ness.

Team man­age­ment orig­i­nally said that the 22-year-old would un­dergo CT scans and be mon­i­tored for the next 48 hours.

How­ever, the Pak­istan Cricket Board (PCB) later said that scans had shown that the player had suf­fered no dam­age.

"Imam-ul-Haq all scans clear. He joined the team and will re­main un­der ob­ser­va­tion of Team Physio," the PCB tweeted.

On the pitch, pace bowler Sha­heen Shah Afridi recorded his ca­reer best bowl­ing while opener Fakhar Za­man hit a half cen­tury to help Pak­istan to a se­rieslev­el­ling vic­tory.

Sha­heen's 4-38 kept New Zealand down to 209-9 in their 50 overs be­fore Za­man re­turned to form with a run-a-ball 88 for his sev­enth fifty to guide Pak­istan to their tar­get for the loss of four wick­ets in 40.3 overs.

Vet­eran bats­man Ross Tay­lor top-scored for New Zealand with a la­bo­ri­ous 120-ball 86 not out and added 75 for the fifth wicket with Henry Ni­cholls, who made a gru­elling 33 off 63 balls.

With the win Pak­istan broke a four-year los­ing streak of 12 con­sec­u­tive one-day in­ter­na­tion­als against the Black Caps, start­ing with a 3-2 de­feat in the UAE in 2014.

New Zealand had also beaten Pak­istan 2-0 (in New Zealand 2015), 2-0 (in New Zealand in 2016), 5-0 (in New Zealand in Jan­uary this year) and in the first match of the cur­rent se­ries by 47 runs in Abu Dhabi on Wed­nes­day.

The win also sets up an in­trigu­ing fi­nal match in Dubai on Sun­day.

"We wanted to stage a come­back and the team did well to do that," said Pak­istan cap­tain Sar­fraz Ahmed.

"We kept them to a low to­tal cour­tesy of Sha­heen and then Fakhar and Babar bat­ted so well."

New Zealand skip­per Kane Williamson ad­mit­ted his team did not put a de­fend­able to­tal.

"A bit of scrap­ping that got us a to­tal," he said. "It wasn't enough on that sur­face. We were out­played."

Za­man, who had a poor 57 runs in the last six one-day in­ter­na­tion­als, pun­ished the New Zealand bowlers with 11 bound­aries and had given Pak­istan a rapid 54 run start with Imam.

Un­de­terred by Imam's in­jury, Za­man added a quick 101 for the sec­ond wicket with Babar Azam who made a 50-ball 46 be­fore both fell in the same Fer­gu­son over.

Fer­gu­son, who fin­ished with 3-60, then had an­other lucky wicket of Shoaib Ma­lik for ten when a fe­ro­cious pull de­flected off Ni­coll's shoul­der and was caught at mid-on by Ish Sodhi.

Sar­fraz fell for 13 but Mo­ham­mad Hafeez hit the win­ning boundary to fin­ish with 27 not out.

Ear­lier, the Tay­lor-Ni­cholls stand lifted New Zealand af­ter Sha­heen once again rocked the top or­der fol­low­ing his 4-46 in the first match.

Sha­heen dis­missed de­struc­tive opener Colin Munro in the sec­ond over of the in­nings, hol­ing out to a tough catch by Hafeez.

In his next over he de­flected a straight drive to run out Kane Williamson (one) at the non­striker's end.

In his sec­ond spell, Sha­heen yorked Tom Latham for one while Hafeez bowled George Worker for 28 to leave New Zealand strug­gling at 73-4.

Tay­lor, who made 80 in the first game, held one end in­tact and to­gether with Ni­cholls en­sured the in­nings did not fin­ish un­der 200.

Ni­cholls was fi­nally bowled in the 38th over by Hasan Ali who fin­ished with 2-59.

Tay­lor hit three bound­aries and a six for his 43rd half cen­tury in one-day in­ter­na­tion­als. - AFP

Pak­istan opener Imam Ul-Haq lies on the pitch af­ter be­ing hit by a ball dur­ing the sec­ond one day in­ter­na­tional on Fri­day. - AFP photo

Cap­tain Joe Root is full of con­fi­dence fol­low­ing Eng­land's vic­tory in Galle. - AFP photo

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