Abu Dhabi: Kane Williamson hit a brilliant hundred as New Zealand won the fourth day-night international against Pakistan by seven runs in an exciting finish in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson (L) celebrates with teammate Tom Latham after scoring century (100 runs) during the fourth day-night international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Zayed International Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi. Pic/AFP
Pakistan went ahead with the match despite calls to postpone it after the Taliban attack on a school in Peshawar on Tuesday which left 148 people dead, 132 of them students. Both teams observed a two-minute silence and wore black armbands as a tribute to the victims. Williamson's 105-ball 123 steered New Zealand to an imposing 299-5 before Younis Khan's first one-day hundred in six years got Pakistan agonisingly close as they finished on 292-8 in 50 overs.
That left the five-match series all square at 2-2, setting up a winner-takes-all final game, also in Abdu Dhabi, on Friday. Williamson praised his side's sensible batting. "It was just about executing the plans we had, and just trying to build partnerships and then it was great to come back with the ball in the second part of the Pakistan innings," said the New Zealand captain.
Younis's 117-ball 103 ended a drought lasting 74 innings as he capitalised on being dropped by Ross Taylor off Adam Milne when only on two. However, when the veteran was seventh out bowled by left-arm spinner Daniel Vettori (3-53) it ended Pakistan's hopes. Shahid Afridi helped Younis add a quick 66 for the sixth wicket, hitting five fours and two sixes in his 25-ball 49 but his fall, followed shortly afterwards by Younis' departure, saw the match swing back New Zealand's way.
Younis, whose last hundred came against the West Indies at the same venue in 2008, put on 49 with Nasir Jamshed (30) for the second wicket and another 90 for the fifth with Umar Akmal who made 29. In all Younis hit four boundaries and two sixes. He also became the oldest Pakistani to notch a one-day hundred at 37 years 18 days, erasing Zaheer Abbas's name from the record books as he was 35 years and 331 days old when he struck his last century for his country.
Pakistan had lost opener Ahmed Shehzad in Matt Henry's first over for a duck. Afridi said it was tough to play after the Peshawar tragedy. "We pray for all those kids who lost their lives," said Afridi. "It was a tough decision to play the match but we played the game to bring happiness to the families who lost their dear ones. "We fielded poorly and conceded too many runs but I am happy that we fought till the last."
New Zealand recorded the third highest total at the ground. Williamson added 44 for the second wicket with Guptill and another 63 for the third with Taylor. Williamson, who scored an unbeaten 70 in New Zealand's four-wicket win in the second match in Sharjah, pulled paceman Mohammad Irfan to deep square-leg for his ninth boundary to complete his century off just 92 balls.
He was finally bowled by Irfan off the last delivery of the innings, having hit 12 boundaries. Williamson's hundred was built on a fine start to the innings. Guptill and Dean Brownlie had given a solid 81-run start before leg-spinner Afridi provided his team with the breakthrough in the 17th over. Guptill hit seven fours in his 78-ball knock before he was caught behind off paceman Sohail Tanvir.