Pakistan 337 for 3 (Fakhar 180*, Babar 65, Shipley 1-58) beat New Zealand 336 for 5 (Mitchell 129, Latham 98, Rauf 4-78) by seven wickets
And Pakistan began the chase brightly once more, though Matt Henry did strike to remove Imam-ul-Haq in the final over of the powerplay; but the hosts kept coasting at above seven runs an over. Coming in at No. 3, Babar struggled through the first few overs of the innings, scoring just 16 runs in his first 25 balls. Thus, the onus fell on Fakhar to ensure Pakistan remained on top of the asking rate, a burden he fulfiled with aplomb.
The real acceleration came in the 21st over when he launched Ish Sodhi for 17, speeding along to his tenth ODI hundred. He had brought up three figures in 83 balls, before launching Rachin Ravindra for a huge six over midwicket, as by now Pakistan were purring. Babar had rediscovered his own touch too with a pair of boundaries against Henry Shipley, and was coasting towards another half-century.
New Zealand ran through the bowling changes but could simply find no way through, until an unforced error from Babar himself provided the breakthrough. He had tonked Sodhi for a six and a four in the 30th over, before a leading edge saw the ball fly up to Chad Bowes at short cover.
The visitors were then provided a glimmer when debutant Abdullah Shafique was prised out by Shipley, but Rizwan hit back with another effective counterattacking knock. It began with a regal cover drive off the first ball and continued with the same elegance. Fakhar had much of the pressure taken off him as both experienced batters tore chunks out of the bowlers, particularly the inexperienced Ravindra.
Fakhar brought up 150 and carried on, while Rizwan’s own half-century arrived off the penultimate ball he faced as Pakistan eased to the win in the end.
Unlike the first ODI where New Zealand fell away sharply in the final ten overs thanks to a rock-solid bowling display by Pakistan, there would be less of a let-up at the death this time. New Zealand cranked through the gears in the final few overs to press home the advantage of the dominant position they had worked themselves into by plundering 98 runs in the final ten overs, with their innings featuring Mitchell’s career-best 129 off 119 balls.
Pakistan had won the toss and reprised the decision to field first, and while New Zealand made a more urgent start than they did on Thursday, Haris Rauf struck to remove Will Young early. But aside from Naseem Shah, whose accuracy and menace forced them into caution, no pace bowler was really spared. Ihsanullah, making his debut, bore the brunt of the third-wicket partnership’s punishment. Rauf wasn’t spared either, and in the 17th over, Mitchell tonked him for a four and a six, bringing up the side’s 100.
Haris struck again after Bowes reached his maiden fifty, but it brought together the defining stand of the innings when Latham and Mitchell got together. Latham had found strokeplay a struggle on Thursday, but had no such problems on the day, getting off to a brisk start and milking the spinners effectively. Mitchell looked characteristically imperturbable, and New Zealand’s platform was being built beautifully.
Pakistan were sloppy in the field in the first game, and must have rued the chance to get rid of Mitchell before he brought up three figures on Saturday too. Naseem put down a dolly at mid-on in the 39th over, with Mitchell four away from the milestone, thus denying Usama Mir the wicket his bowling deserved. Four balls later, Latham pulled Mir away for four to bring up his own half-century, while Mitchell eased his way to a hundred the following over.
The shackles were broken at that point, and in the absence of the same quality from the Pakistan bowlers as in the first ODI, run-scoring was easier. The final 11 overs brought 107 runs for New Zealand, with Latham central to much of the boundary-hitting. He was denied a century when, in the 47th over, Pakistan reviewed a not-out verdict to find that Latham had inside-edged to the wicketkeeper off Rauf when on 98. And eventually, a tight final three overs from Pakistan ensured New Zealand were kept below the 350 they had threatened.
But with Fakhar and Pakistan in this chasing form, there’s little to suggest even that would have been enough on a day Pakistan motored along in Rawalpindi, while New Zealand petered out.
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000