All-rounder Mohammad Hafeez has dedicated his team’s victory over New Zealand by five wickets to Pakistan's security forces. Earlier in September, the Black Caps had pulled out of the white-ball series in Pakistan citing security threats just before the start of the first ODI in Rawalpindi.
After handing a resounding 10-wicket defeat to arch-rivals India on Sunday in Dubai, Pakistan continued their good form and outplayed the Kane Williamson-led side on Tuesday in Sharjah. Batting first, New Zealand started off well as their openers Martin Guptill and Daryl Mitchell added 36 runs for the first wicket before the former fell to Haris Rauf in the fifth over. The Kiwi batsmen tried their best to put up a decent score, but Rauf restricted the batsman from scoring runs, and scalped three more wickets to his name. The Pakistan pacer ended with brilliant figures of 4/22. Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hafeez, and Imad Wasim clinched one wicket each, and helped their side to restrict New Zealand to 134/8.
In reply to New Zealand's 134 runs, openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan provided a steady start as they stitched up a 28-run partnership before Tim Southee cleaned bowled the Pakistan captain. The Babar Azam-led side lose wickets in regular intervals as they tumbled from 47/2 to 87/5. However, Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali stitched a match-winning partnership of 48 runs to clinch their second victory in the Super 12 stage.
After the match against New Zealand Mohammad Hafeez dedicated Pakistan’s win to the security forces of his nation.
“Dedicating this win to all security forces of Pakistan. Well done boys keep working hard for [the] Cup. In Shaa Allah. Pakistan Zindabad,” said Hafeez on Twitter.
Earlier in September this year, New Zealand had arrived in Pakistan for the first time since 2003 and were scheduled to play a three-match ODI series in Rawalpindi, followed by five-match T20I series in Lahore. However, the NZC withdrew from the series, citing security threats to the New Zealand cricket team. Despite Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan providing assurance, New Zealand decided to stay with thier decision, and the players left the country the day after.
With the win against New Zealand, Pakistan became a strong contender to qualify for the semi-finals. The Babar Azam-led side will next face Afghanistan on Friday, October 28 in Dubai.