The Pakistan one-day captain credits his pace attack preventing New Zealand to post a huge target on a batting paradise in Napier.
Afridi praises bowlers after beating New Zealand in Napier
NAPIER // Shahid Afridi, the Pakistan one-day captain, gave full credit to his side's bowlers after their thrilling two-wicket win over New Zealand in the fourth one-day international in Napier.
Sent in to field by New Zealand on a pitch that was ideal for batting, Pakistan's pacemen ripped through the top order inside the first 25 overs to set the tone for the rest of the day, with Wahab Riaz grabbing figures of three for 51.
New Zealand managed to post a challenging target of 263, and almost took the game away from the visitors, but middle-order heroics from Misbah-ul-Haq, who smashed an unbeaten 93 off 91 deliveries, ensured a narrow win, and more importantly, a 2-1 lead in the six-match series with two left to play.
Afridi, who himself picked up the wicket of New Zealand's star batsman of the day James Franklin, was pleased with his attack.
"I think the way the boys bowled with the new ball, especially on this track which is like heaven for batsmen, it was really well and full credit goes to them," he said, drawing particular praise for Riaz.
"Mentally he is a very strong lad. He's been doing a great job for us not only in one-day internationals but Tests and Twenty20's as well."
Afridi also hailed Misbah's match-winning knock, without which the visitors were more than likely to lose given a mounting required run-rate.
The blistering innings began cautiously alongside Younus Khan (42) and increased in tempo even as wickets fell around him in the powerplay overs.
But the youngster handled the pressure well and eventually tail-ender Sohail Tanvir finished things off with three boundaries in the penultimate over.
"265 is not an easy total especially when you are chasing but the way [opener] Ahmed Shehzad  played was very good, very positive cricket, Afridi said. "And after that Misbah-ul-Haq and Younus Khan took responsibility and played a very good partnership.
"It was very good and it came at a crucial time for us. And for Misbah, in the end especially, it was a great knock."