Karachi, May 4 (IANS) Debutant allrounder Cole McConchie made a bold unbeaten 64 and Tom Blundell (65) top-scored but their efforts went in vain as a series of errors consigned New Zealand to a 26-run defeat in the third ODI, giving hosts Pakistan an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the five-match ODI series.
Chasing Pakistan’s 287/6. build on superb fifties by opener Imam-ul-Haq (90) and skipper Babar Azam (54) at the National Stadium here, the Black Caps were dismissed for 261 in the last over and suffered their third successive defeat in the series.
After skipper Tom Latham won the toss and elected to field first, Tom Blundell, in his first appearance of the series, top-scored but was one of two unnecessary run-out victims as the tourists made a mess of their run chase.
The opener/wicketkeeper cruised to 65 from 78 balls before taking on the arm of Mohammad Wasim when attempting a second run and falling short. Blundell struck seven boundaries in his 112-minute stay at the crease.
Blundell and Will Young put on 83 for the first wicket in 15.3 overs before Young was run out for 33 from 41 deliveries when guilty of ball-watching.
Daryl Mitchell, who had made back-to-back centuries like Fakhar, was dropped twice but couldn’t prosper – on 21, he could have hit a half-volley outside leg stump from Mohammad Wasim anywhere, but mis-hit it to Abdullah Shafique on the square leg boundary.
New Zealand were handily poised just two down at the midway stage, but after Blundell fell, a mostly second-string line-up couldn’t find the hitting power to get near their target.
New Zealand needed 97 from the last 10 overs and when Latham was bowled for 45 from 60 balls, Pakistan’s victory was virtually assured.
McConchie waged a gritty battle down the order as he hammered 64 not out off 45 deliveries, smacking six boundaries and two sixes. However, the rest of the New Zealand batters including white-ball specialist Adam Milne failed to even get into double figures as fell short of the target.
Earlier, pacer Matt Henry was the star with the ball for New Zealand, taking 3-54 from his 10 overs, his early dismissal of the in-form opener Fakhar Zaman the highlight of his effort on Wednesday night.
Fakhar, who had made 117 and 180 not out in the previous two matches which moved him up to No.2 on the ICC ODI men’s batting rankings, was kept in check early by Henry and Adam Milne before Henry forced a skier which Blundell took behind the stumps.
Babar Azam, the world’s top-rated ODI batter, and Imam ul-Haq put on 108 for the second wicket with the Pakistan skipper making 54 from 62 balls. But it took them 20.1 overs to do so as the visitors kept the run rate in check throughout the innings.
Imam top-scored with 90 from 107 deliveries while Shadab Khan’s 21 from 10 balls set the Black Caps a target of 288.
With Fakhar Zaman back in the hut early, left-handed opener Imam took over the responsibility of setting the platform, hitting seven fours and a six and batting until the 38th over. Babar provided him good company as they repaired the innings and helped Pakistan set a target that proved enough in the end.
Pakistan 287/6 in 50 overs (Imam ul-Haq 90, Babar Azam 54; Matt Henry 3-54, Adam Milne 2-56) beat New Zealand 261 all out in 49.1 overs (Tom Blundell 65, Cole McConchie 64 not out, Tom Latham 45; Naseem Shah 2-41, Mohammad Wasim 2-50, Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-52) by 26 runs.