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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 10 December 2018

Rain means Pakistan and New Zealand ODI series finishes all square in Dubai

The third ODI abandoned with the Black Caps 35-1 chasing Pakistan's 270

New Zealand batsmen George Worker and Henry Nicholls walk off in Dubai as rain stops proceedings for good in the third ODI with Pakistan. Getty
New Zealand batsmen George Worker and Henry Nicholls walk off in Dubai as rain stops proceedings for good in the third ODI with Pakistan. Getty

Pakistan and New Zealand shared the three-match one-day international series after the final game was abandoned because of rain in Dubai on Sunday.

The deciding fixture was perfectly poised when the showers arrived. New Zealand were 35 for one from 6.5 overs as they set about chasing what would like have been a testing target of 280 set by Pakistan.

However, the teams were forced from the field by rain at 7.47pm, which was followed by high winds, thunder and lightning.

The majority of the supporters who had come to Dubai International Stadium stayed throughout the frustrating delay, until the umpires finally called the game off at 10pm.

It meant the series ended 1-1, after the sides claimed a win apiece before decamped up the E11 from Abu Dhabi for the series finale.

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The adverse weather conditions spoiled what had been a fine game.

Babar Azam starred again. The young Pakistan batsman has done everything with the bat apart from score a century in the UAE over the past month.

He top scored in five out of six Twenty20 matches across the series against Australia and New Zealand. He hit 99 in the second innings of the Abu Dhabi Test against Australia.

And he suffered more misery in the nervous nineties this time around, too. The on-song batsman holed out to Henry Nicholls on the boundary off Trent Boult for 92, as he chased late-over runs as well as that elusive century.

While Babar’s wait goes on, at least Lockie Ferguson was granted overdue reward in the form of a personal milestone.

The fast-bowler, who has toiled hard on unresponsive wickets in this series, picked up his first five-wicket haul in internationals for New Zealand – three of which came in the final over of the innings, as Pakistan reached 279 for eight.

It was an innings of rare occurrences. First of all, Mohammed Hafeez lost his wicket, after giving Pakistan a fine start alongside Fakhar Zaman, when he trod on his wicket.

It was barely perceptible, as he stepped back deep in his crease to glance a delivery from Ferguson off his hip and down to fine leg for a single.

New Zealand noticed one bail lying on the pitch next to the stumps, made an inquiry, and Hafeez had to go, hit wicket for 19.

The fact Pakistan were on 64 at that point was testament to the fine touch Fakhar was in. The left-hander has been rested for the first two matches of the forthcoming series against New Zealand.

That decision has come despite the fact he made a brace of vital half-centuries in his Test debut against Australia last month, and scored 88 and 65 in the final two matches of the ODI series against New Zealand.

While the hit-wicket dismissal of Hafeez was unusual, what followed at the end of the innings was as rare as hen’s teeth.

Faheem Ashraf got off the mark first ball against Boult with an all-run five. The two separate overthrows which brought it about capped off an uncharacteristically ragged fielding display by the tourists.

New Zealand might have been fearful when Pakistan won the toss and had first use of a wicket that has already had plenty of traffic on it so far this season.

Their batsmen might have taken some cheer from the clean-striking of Babar, Fakhar and Haris Sohail, who made a crisp 60 from 59 balls. The fluidness of the strokeplay suggested there were runs to be had on the Dubai International Stadium wicket.

Shaheen Afridi made in early breakthrough with the ball for Pakistan, ending the threat of Colin Munro just two balls into the left-hander’s innings.

Then, although George Worker and Nicholls were showing promise, New Zealand’s pursuit was undone by the weather instead.