New Zealand wilt as Hafeez makes century

Christchurch, Jan 29 (AFP) Pakistan recovered from anearly collapse to post 293-7 anchored by a maiden century fromMohammad Hafeez, batting first in the third one-dayinternational against New Zealand today.

After being put into bat on a green-tinged wicket inChristchurch, Pakistan were in early trouble at two for eightin the fourth over before Hafeez turned their fortunes aroundwith a 115-run effort.

In a blistering close to the innings Umar Akmal (44) andShahid Afridi (65) stepped up the pressure as Pakistan put on126 in the last 10 overs to wrest the initiative away from NewZealand.

Afridi''s explosive knock, which took advantage of theshort boundaries at AMI stadium and included five fours andfive sixes, saw him reach his half-century in only 19deliveries.

The stage for the late charge was set by Hafeez, who waspartnered by Younis Khan in a 48-run stand for the thirdwicket, then featured in a telling 94-run partnership withMisbah-ul-Haq before putting on 52 with Umar Akmal.

Hafeez scored around the wicket with ease, untroubled bythe New Zealand bowlers who had difficulty maintaining tightlines in blustery conditions.

He brought up his first ODI century in the 42nd over,cutting New Zealand spin debutant Luke Woodcock to point for asingle, but was undone two overs later trying to hit KyleMills out of the ground.

Having hit Mills over the long-on boundary for six hetried to repeat the shot with the next delivery but it wastop-edged to Ross Taylor at midwicket.

Tim Southee, who has been the form bowler for New Zealandthis season, struck with only his third ball when he had AhmedShehzad caught at second slip.

Bowling into the wind, Southee delivered a good lengthdelivery outside off stump which Shehzad dabbed at withoutconviction and edged the ball to Scott Styris to be dismissedwithout scoring.

With the first delivery of his next over Southee had aball come back on Kamran Akmal, who shaped to cut but clippedthe ball back on to the stumps to be gone for six.

Hafeez then made his intentions known and put life intothe Pakistan innings when he belted two fours off Southee''sthird over, then a four and six off Hamish Bennett''s openingover.

Bennett was taken out of the attack after conceding 22runs in three overs and Jacob Oram had success in his firstover when he duped Younis Khan with a slower delivery whichwas lofted to Mills at mid-on.

He came within a whisker of removing Hafeez on 49 when adiving Brendon McCullum spilled a hard chance to his right andtwo balls later the batsman brought up his eighth ODI 50 withan easy single to third man.

McCullum did not have the best of innings behind thestumps for New Zealand, missing a simple chance to stumpMisbah-ul-Haq, but later made amends with a diving catch tohis left to dismiss Afridi off the bowling of Bennett.

For New Zealand, Bennett took two for 54, Southee two for57 and Mills two for 61. (AFP) SNK

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