BIRMINGHAM – Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme hit fighting half-centuries as New Zealand posted 237/6 after Shaheen Shah Afridi’s three-wicket burst left them in a perilous position against Pakistan on Wednesday.
Neesham finished with a career-best one-day international score of 97 not out, hitting a six off the final ball, while De Grandhomme scored 64 to give their unbeaten team side a defensible total at Edgbaston.
The pair, who came together at 83/5, added 132 for the sixth wicket, repairing the damage after a collapse following Kane Williamson’s decision to bat in overcast conditions in Birmingham.
Teenager Shaheen, who finished with figures of 3/28 in his 10 overs, wrecked the New Zealand top-order, taking three wickets in 20 balls as Pakistan looked for a crucial victory following their win against South Africa.
Neesham, whose previous highest ODI score was 74, hit five fours and three sixes in his sixth ODI 50, and was ably supported by De Grandhomme.
Despite New Zealand’s fightback, Pakistan coach Mickey Arthur said he was confident his side could win the match and stay in the hunt for a semi-final place.
“Shaheen Afridi is only 19, we’ve got to understand that. Today he was outstanding, he asked a lot of questions,” he said.
“Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme played well. I thought we kept them at bay pretty well.
“I think there’s always going to be a partnership, it’s that sort of wicket, but they showed us how to play on the wicket. I’m backing us to chase that total.”
New Zealand were wobbling badly when the in-form Williamson was dismissed by leg-spinner Shadab Khan, who enticed the captain into giving an edge to wicket-keeper Sarfaraz Ahmed when he was on 41.
Williamson, who had scored centuries in each of his previous innings, put on 37 for the fifth wicket with Neesham after New Zealand had slipped to 46/4.
Mohammad Amir was first to strike, bowling Martin Guptill with the New Zealand score on five, before Shaheen had opener Colin Munro (12) caught by Haris Sohail in the slips.
Ross Taylor edged a Shaheen delivery to Sarfaraz and Tom Latham departed in similar fashion.
Overnight rain delayed the start by an hour, but the umpires decided the match would remain at 50 overs per side.
New Zealand, who are second in the 10-team table with 11 points, kept the same team for the fifth match in a row.
Pakistan, who are seventh, with five points, also kept faith with the team that beat South Africa at Lord’s on Sunday.
If New Zealand win they will join title-holders Australia in the semi-finals.AFP