Pakistan (241/4) kept their bid to qualify for the 2019 Cricket World Cup knockout stages alive with a big win over New Zealand (237/6) on Wednesday, beating the Black Caps by six wickets with five balls remaining.
James Neesham (97 not out) and Colin de Grandhomme (64) were the unlikely top scorers of New Zealand's innings, boosting the total to 237 after a rocky start. Pakistan had their own dynamic partnership, however, as Babar Azam (101 not out) and Haris Sohail (68) teamed up to complete a steady chase.
The loss was New Zealand's first of the tournament and their place in the semi-finals no longer looks assured. Pakistan, meanwhile, move up to sixth place, tied on points with Bangladesh and just a single point behind hosts England, who are now in serious jeopardy of failing to make the next stage.
Here are the top run-scorers of the Cricket World Cup so far:
David Warner, Australia, 500
Aaron Finch, Australia, 496
Shakib Al Hasan, Bangladesh, 476
Joe Root, England, 432
Kane Williamson, New Zealand, 414
The top wicket-takers:
Mitchell Starc, Australia, 19
Mohammad Amir, Pakistan, 16
Jofra Archer, England, 16
Lockie Ferguson, New Zealand, 15
Mark Wood, England, 13
For complete stats, visit the tournament's official website.
Pakistan did plenty of early damage with the ball on Wednesday, but an unlikely partnership of Neesham and De Grandhomme still gave the Black Caps a solid total to defend at Edgbaston.
Openers Martin Guptil (five from four) and Colin Munro (12 from 17) didn't last long for the in-form New Zealand squad, and while the ever-reliable Kane Williamson (41 from 69) put up some much-needed resistance, the Black Caps' chances of winning seemed doomed when he was caught in the 27th over.
At the time, the score was 83 for five and not much was expected from the sixth-wicket partnership. Neesham and De Grandhomme had other ideas, however:
Andrew Alderson @aldersonnotes
This is the longest time @BLACKCAPS all-rounders Jimmy Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme have spent at the crease in an ODI. Neesham previously 83 balls now 103; de Grandhomme 48 balls now 70. Also the 1st century partnership for the 6th wicket by a NZ pair at World Cups. #CWC19
De Grandhomme's 64 from 71 and Neesham's 97 not-out powered the Black Caps to a solid total, and even their opponents were impressed by the latter's performance:
For Pakistan, 19-year-old Shaheen Afridi bowled 10 sensational overs, with three maidens and three wickets:
Fakhar Zaman (nine from 10) and Imam-ul-Haq (19 from 29) fell relatively early in the chase, as the Black Caps did a fine job keeping the Pakistani batsman in check initially.
The required run rate steadily climbed to above five, but Azam (101 not out) and Sohail (68 from 76) never panicked, showing plenty of patience in the chase.
Azam received praise for his century:
Shahid Afridi @SAfridiOfficial
Brilliant batting by Babar Azam and Haris Sohail, special win for Pakistan. Babars batting through the innings has made all the difference. The talent of Haris Sohail, his shot making is pure class. Pakistan are back in this World cup! #WeHaveWeWill #BoomBoomPakistan 🇵🇰💪🏼🏆 https://t.co/r6Xz3nwdQM
Back-to-back fours from Azam in the 42nd pushed the required run rate below five, and the chase seemed secure from that point on. Sarfaraz Ahmed got Pakistan over the line with a four on the first delivery of the final over.
India will face West Indies on Thursday. Pakistan's next outing will be on Saturday when they face Afghanistan, while New Zealand will also be in action in a key game for their hopes against Australia.