Pakistan stuns New Zealand to keep Cricket World Cup hopes alive

Pakistan beats New Zealand by six wickets at Edgbaston, keeping them alive at the Cricket World Cup Video: Jubilant crowd celebrates after Pakistan win (ABC News)  Pakistan enhanced its reputation as the most unpredictable team in international cricket with a stunning six-wicket victory that kept its World Cup semi-final hopes alive, ruined New Zealand’s perfect record and heaped more pressure on hosts England    Babar Azam hit his 10th ODI century, finishing 101 not out off 127 balls, as Pakistan reached 4-241 in 49 1 overs in reply to New Zealand’s 6-237. It was the Black Caps’ first loss after five wins and a no result External Link: Cricket World Cup tweet: Pakistan are now just one point off fourth place #CWC19 #NZvPAK #WeHaveWeWill    Every boundary — 11 of them from Babar — produced a huge roar and a sea of green flags in the stands as an overwhelmingly Pakistan-supporting crowd had a day to remember at Edgbaston  Babar shared a fourth-wicket partnership of 126 with Haris Sohail, who was run out by Martin Guptill for a 76-ball 68 in the penultimate over after hitting five fours and two sixes  Babar also put on 66 for the third wicket with Mohammad Hafeez (32). Pakistan moved level on seven points with Bangladesh, one point behind fourth-place England, which has lost its last two games  The top four in the 10-team standings advance to the semi-finals. The New Zealanders chased down South Africa’s 6-241 on the same Edgbaston wicket a week earlier Pakistan, which is not seen as a run-chasing specialist in this format, also went to the last over on Wednesday, but on this occasion it was much more comfortable  Pakistan started its chase quickly — maybe too quickly — on an overcast day with the floodlights on Trent Boult (1-48) won the battle of the lefthanders when opener Fakhar Zaman (9) was caught by Guptill after an edge went high into the air with the total on 19    The Pakistan team was 1-43 after the first powerplay. Guptill then did even better with a diving catch forward to dismiss Imam-ul-Haq (19), who was unable to control a hostile, rising delivery from Lockie Ferguson (1-50), making it 2-44  There was a lively battle between bat and ball in the 15th over. Hafeez hit Ferguson for two fours, but the fast bowler also hit the batsman on the grille of his helmet External Link: @ICC tweet: Watch the brilliant @babarazam258 bring up his 10th ODI 100! #WeHaveWeWill #CWC19    Pakistan began to accelerate the run chase and the 24-year-old Babar reached a landmark — becoming the second-fastest man after South Africa’s Hashim Amla to compile 3,000 ODI runs, in his 68th innings  He posed a real danger to the Black Caps, delicately edging the ball and also turning on the aggression as New Zealand started to run out of options  Babar and Haris hit nine off one Colin Munro over and 10 off the next from Kane Williamson  The pair reduced the target to 23 from five overs, 13 in three overs, and four runs in 12 balls before Haris was run out It was then left to skipper Sarfaraz Ahmed to hit the winning boundary off Ferguson    Earlier, Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme came to New Zealand’s rescue with a 132-run partnership for the sixth wicket after captain Williamson had elected to bat first  Left-arm seamer Shaheen Afridi (3-28) had helped reduce the Black Caps to 4-46 and 5-83, when dangerman Williamson was out for 41  Neesham struck an ODI-best 97 not out from 112 balls. He hit five fours and three sixes, including smashing the last ball of the innings over the ropes  De Grandhomme was run out, too slow against Mohammad Amir’s throw while going for a second run, after a 71-ball 64 Is this a bit of history repeating? External Link: @cricketworldcup tweet: Right, NOW it’s getting spooky #WeHaveWeWill    Pakistan next plays last-place Afghanistan on Saturday before finishing the group stage against Bangladesh on July 5 with a potential semi-final place at stake  Cricket historians and longtime fans noted a marked similarity between Pakistan’s World Cup campaign so far and the 1992 tournament  In the team’s first seven games, each result has been the same as 1992, including the third match in each Cup being rained out — this time against Sri Lanka  After losing three of the first five matches, Pakistan has bounced back to have won three out of seven, just like the earlier tournament, which was held in Australia  Pakistan fans will be fervently hoping that the comparisons keep going — in 1992, the team led by Imran Khan (now Pakistan’s Prime Minister) went on to win the trophy, beating England in the final  AP/ABC

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