Swashbuckling opener Fakhar Zaman cracked a blistering century to save Pakistan from World Cup elimination in a rain-affected and dramatic 21-run victory over New Zealand at Bengaluru on Saturday.
The 33-year-old left-hander smashed 11 sixes and eight boundaries in his unbeaten 81-ball 126 as rain forced a premature end to the match with Pakistan 200-1 after 25.3 overs, chasing a revised DLS target of 342 in 41 overs.
Rachin Ravindra hit his third century of the tournament while Kane Williamson scored 95 to help New Zealand pile up 401-6 in their 50 overs.
Set a mammoth 402-run target initially, Zaman lifted Pakistan to 160-1 after 21.3 overs before a 90-minute stoppage due to rain led to a revised target for Pakistan.
After the resumption, Zaman kept up the tempo, hitting three sixes off spinner Ish Sodhi’s 25th over as Pakistan went past the 200-mark.
Pakistan had needed to overhaul the original target of 402 in 35.3 overs if they were to get beyond New Zealand’s better net run-rate which could prove crucial in the battle for semi-final spots.
However, Abdullah Shafique fell for four in the second over.
Zaman and skipper Babar Azam (66) added 194 for the unbroken second wicket stand.
Zaman took the attack to the New Zealand bowlers, smashing four sixes and as many boundaries in his 39-ball fifty.
He completed his 11th ODI hundred, and first in a World Cup, with a six and a single off Mitchell Santner.
His century came off 63 balls with nine sixes and six boundaries.
Pakistan now have eight points from as many games with their last match against England in Kolkata on November 11.
They not only need to win that but also hope New Zealand lose to Sri Lanka on November 9 in Bengaluru at this same venue or the match is hit by rain.
New Zealand pile up 401
Earlier, it was Ravindra and Williamson who set the platform for New Zealand’s total after they were put in to bat.
Ravindra continued his superb form with a 94-ball 108 with 15 boundaries and a six and was matched stroke for stroke by Williamson whose 79-ball knock was spiced with two sixes and ten boundaries.
This was Ravindra’s third century of the tournament – in addition to two half centuries – and he was in total control until he holed out at deep mid-wicket off Mohammad Wasim in the 36th over.
On a dry looking Chinnaswamy pitch, Pakistan entered the match with four fast bowlers and two part-time spinners and with rain forecast in the afternoon sent New Zealand in to bat.
In contrast, New Zealand brought in leg-spinner Sodhi in addition to three other slow bowlers including an in-form Santner.
Ravindra and Devon Conway scored 66 in the first power-play before Conway fell to a short pitched ball from Hasan Ali after scoring a 35-ball 39 with six boundaries.
Williamson, who recovered from a knee surgery just before the World Cup, had played only one game against Bangladesh before fracturing his thumb.
But the regular New Zealand skipper showed no signs of rustiness and added 180 for the second wicket with Ravindra.
Williamson fell with the score at 248, holing out off Iftikhar Ahmed at long-off while an over later Ravindra also miscued a lofted shot and was caught at the boundary off Mohammad Wasim.
Daryl Mitchell (29) and Mark Chapman (39) added a quickfire 57 for the fourth wicket as none of the Pakistani bowlers could stem the flow of runs.
Glenn Phillips hit a 25-ball 41 with four boundaries and two sixes while Santner was not left behind, smashing two sixes in his 17-ball 26 not out.
Wasim was the best Pakistan bowler with 3-60 but Shaheen Shah Afridi conceded 90 and Haris Rauf 85 respectively in their ten overs – the worst-ever figures by Pakistan bowlers in all World Cups.
The worst previous World Cup performance by a Pakistani bowler was Hasan’s 1-84 against India at Old Trafford in 2019.