Imam given all clear after helmet blow as Pakistan level series

By Sports Desk November 09, 2018

Fakhar Zaman made a classy half-century following Shaheen Afridi's four-for as Pakistan claimed an elusive six-wicket ODI win over New Zealand after Imam-ul-Haq took a nasty blow on the helmet.

Imam was given the all clear at hospital in Abu Dhabi on Friday after a quick delivery from Lockie Ferguson struck him on the grille, the opener looking unsteady after getting to his feet before being helped off.

Pakistan made light work of chasing down their victory target of 210 as they awaited news of Imam, who retired hurt on 16, with Fakhar making a run-a-ball 88 - his first ODI half-century in Asia.

Fakhar and Babar Azam (46) put on 101 before Pakistan set up a series-decider in Dubai on Sunday, ending a run of 12 consecutive ODI defeats against the Black Caps with almost 10 overs to spare.

Ross Taylor followed up his 80 in the first match of the series with 86 but lacked support, while Shaheen - who took 4-48 in a defeat on Wednesday - was the pick of the bowlers with 4-38 as New Zealand were restricted to 209-9.

Shaheen removed Colin Munro in his first over and struck a huge blow by diverting a George Worker drive onto the stumps at the non-strikers end with Kane Williamson out of his ground.

Taylor kept the scoreboard ticking but could not afford to take any risks after New Zealand were reduced to 73-4 and Hasan Ali (2-59) ended a 75-run stand by bowling Henry Nicholls (33).

The excellent Shadab Khan (1-25) got rid of Colin de Grandhomme and Shaheen kept it tight at the death, removing Tim Southee and Ish Sodhi before the in-form Taylor lofted Hasan into the leg side for his first six in the final over.

Fakhar struck Trent Boult for back-to-back boundaries into the leg side and the Pakistan openers put on 54 in 12 overs before Imam was done for pace by Ferguson and took a nasty blow.

There was concern for the 22-year-old after he was carried into an ambulance, but Fakhar and Babar all but ended New Zealand's hope of sealing a series win with a century stand.

Fakhar timed the ball exquisitely, reaching his half-century by cutting Sodhi for four and setting about Boult, who summed up his side's effort in the field with a wild throw at the stumps that went for four overthrows. 

Ferguson saw the back of Fakhar and Babar, who struck five boundaries in his 50-ball knock, in the same over, then dismissed Shoaib Malik but Mohammad Hafeez (27 not out) chopped Southee for four to seal an emphatic win.

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