|Pakistan’s Misbah-ul-Haq and Tanvir Ahmed celebrate their winning runs in Napier [GALLO/GETTY]|
Pakistan took a confident 2-1 lead in the one-day international series against New Zealand as a calm Misbah-ul-haq hit his way to a career-best 93 not out to steer Pakistan to a two-wicket win in Napier.
New Zealand made 262-7 in their 50 overs, batting first after winning the toss in ideal batting conditions at McLean Park. Although Pakistan stumbled several times in their run chase, Misbah steered his team home with an over to spare as Pakistan finished on 264 for eight.
The result was New Zealand’s 13th loss in their last 15 ODIs, continuing their miserable preparation for the World Cup, which starts in little more than two weeks.
New Zealand innings
The Pakistan Test captain, who had been coasting to the victory target while batting with Younus Khan (42), was forced to take all the responsibility of getting his side home when Younus was run out in the 38th over.
Umar Akmal then scratched around for 10 off 17 balls before he was well caught in the 43rd over by Nathan McCullum off Vettori, who trapped Shahid Afridi in front two balls later to give New Zealand a faint hope of running through the bowlers to win the match.
Misbah, however, and Abdul Razzaq (23) managed to keep pace with the required run rate and while Razzaq was well caught by a hobbling Vettori, Misbah smashed 10 runs off two balls from Scott Styris and Sohail Tanvir (14) hit three boundaries off Tim Southee the next over to see their side home.
Late call-up James Franklin had proved the saviour of New Zealand’s innings, which was about 30 runs short of a par total on a good batting wicket with short square boundaries.
Franklin was only brought into the side after Jesse Ryder, who injured a finger while playing for Wellington at the weekend, withdrew before play began.
The left-hander, who had scores of 72 not out, 98 not out and 17 not out in his previous three innings in India last December, top-scored with 62 to help arrest New Zealand’s mid-innings slump.
The hosts had romped to 40 without loss but lost three wickets for four runs and then slumped to 79 for five before Franklin’s 62-run partnership with Brendon McCullum (37) and a stand of 64 runs with Nathan McCullum (53 not out) halted the slide.