Pakistan recover to set New Zealand target of 263

Pakistan’s Hasan Ali takes the catch of New Zealand’s captain Kane Williamson during the first one day international cricket match between New Zealand and Pakistan. (AFP)
Updated 16 January 2018
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Pakistan recover to set New Zealand target of 263

HAMILTON, New Zealand: Pakistan bounced back from a horror start to set New Zealand a competitive target of 263 in the fourth one-day international in Hamilton on Tuesday.
Mohammad Hafeez top scored with 81 as the tourists’ batsmen finally managed to notch some runs, with Fakhar Zaman, Haris Sohail and captain Sarfraz Ahmed also posting half centuries.
Paceman Tim Southee led the New Zealand attack with three for 44 and skipper Kane Williamson took two for 32.
Pakistan finished their 50-over innings at 262 for eight, thanks to some big-hitting from Hafeez, who smashed 22 from the final over.
It was a gutsy fightback from a side that was reeling at 11 for two in the fifth over and looked in danger of another humiliation after being skittled for 74 in their last outing.
Already 3-0 in the five-match series, Pakistan had little to lose and promoted hard-hitting allrounder Faheem Ashraf to open the batting in the search for runs.
The gamble backfired when Faheem departed for one after edging a swinging Southee delivery to the wicketkeeper in the third over, bringing Babar Azam to the crease.
He lasted only nine balls before becoming Southee’s second victim, trudging back to the pavilion with only three runs to his name.
Fakhar Zaman was lucky not to follow him on seven when he spooned the ball to mid-wicket, only for Colin Munro to drop the chance.
Fakhar made the most of his life, bringing up his half century off 68 balls as part of a productive 86-run partnership with Haris Sohail before departing for 54.
Haris, returning to the ODI arena for the first time since 2015, also failed to push on after reaching 50, smashing the ball to Henry Nicholls on the boundary as he looked for a big six.
Incoming batsman Shoaib Malik had an injury scare as he ran into the path of fielder Munro’s throw while trying to scamper back to his crease and the ball hit him flush on the head.
Shoaib, who was not wearing a helmet, fell down onto the wicket but was able to continue after consultations with team medics, although he was dismissed in the next over.
Pakistan were 175 for five with 10 overs remaining before Sarfraz and partner Hafeez stepped up the pace.
Sarfraz Ahmed reached 51 off 46 balls while Hafeez’s 81 included five fours and four sixes.


Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach

Updated 52 min 46 sec ago
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Pakistan’s Mohammad Amir ‘100 percent ready’ to face England, says coach

  • Left-armer is fit after a knee injury
  • 'He’s fine, he’s ready to go'

LONDON: Pakistan spearhead Mohammad Amir is “100 percent ready” for the first Test against England at Lord’s starting on Thursday despite a knee injury, according to team coach Mickey Arthur.
The left-arm fast bowler was seen stretching out his right knee as Pakistan beat Test debutants Ireland by five wickets during a one-off match in Malahide, Dublin concluded last week.
Pakistan bowling coach Azhar Mahmood suggested Amir had suffered a recurrence of a “chronic” problem.
But head coach Arthur, speaking to reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday, had no qualms about the fitness of Amir.
“He’s perfect, 100 percent,” Arthur insisted. “He’s fine, he’s ready to go.”
As for Amir, missing Pakistan’s final warm-up match ahead of the two-Test England series, last weekend’s drawn match against Leicestershire, Arthur added: “It was his rotation. (Mohammad) Abbas sat out the first (tour) game, Hasan (Ali) sat out the second, so he sat out the third.”
Amir was the hottest property in world cricket after bursting on the scene as a teenager in 2009 and at 18 he was the youngest bowler to have taken 50 Test wickets.
But his world was turned upside down in 2010 when he became involved in a spot-fixing scandal after deliberately bowling no-balls during the Lord’s Test against England — an incident that would eventually see him sent to prison by an English court and given a five-year ban by the International Cricket Council.
Amir’s first 14 Tests saw him take 51 wickets at just a fraction over 23 apiece, figures that had him on course to be an all-time great.
But the 17 Tests since his comeback two years ago have seen him take 49 wickets at a more expensive average of 34.91
Amir, and Pakistan for that matter, have not been helped by the fact that those 17 Tests since 2016 have also seen 16 catches dropped off his bowling.
The stigma of his spot-fixing exile has started to fade, with Amir playing for Pakistan during their 2-2 draw in a four-Test series in England two years ago.
He also starred for Essex as they won English domestic cricket’s first-class County Championship title last season.
Now the 26-year-old Amir is set to be the leader of an inexperienced Pakistan attack.
England, who didn’t manage a single win during their recent seven combined Tests in Australia and New Zealand, collapsed to 58 all out in Auckland in March as Kiwi left-arm quick Trent Boult took six wickets.
And Arthur backed Amir to do similar damage
“I think Mohammad Amir is the finest exponent of pace and swing when he gets it 100 percent right,” Arthur said.
“We’ve used that spell that Trent Boult bowled in Auckland. We’ve had a look at his lengths.
“We believe he (Amir) bowls incredibly well at left-handers and there will be three left-handers (Alastair Cook, Mark Stoneman and Dawid Malan) in the (England) top four.
“He’s ready, I just hope it goes really well for him because he’s been unlucky at times with the amount of dropped catches.
“He’s ready, he’s determined, he’s fit, he’s strong, he’s excited, he’s in a very good place at the moment.”
Arthur is unusual in having served as the head coach of three leading nations — his native South Africa, Australia and Pakistan.
But he was adamant he had no desire to replace Trevor Bayliss when the Australian steps down as England coach next year.
“No, I’m very happy,” Arthur said. “I’d like to keep going with Pakistan for as long as they will have me because it’s unfinished business for us at the moment. This is a very young cricket team and I worry if we move on what happens to these guys. Their fitness regime is outstanding, they are training hard and they are enjoying their cricket. I’m very, very happy with where I am at the moment,” he insisted.