He’s yet to taste defeat in nine one-day cricket internationals for Pakistan, averages 44 with the bat and credits Brendon McCullum as his batting inspiration.
Fakhar Zaman, the fearless left-handed opener with the fast hands, took an instant liking to New Zealand pitches with a blistering century in Nelson in their only warmup match before the first ODI in Wellington on Saturday.
Zaman hit 106 off 84 balls before being retired out as Pakistan amassed 341-9 against a modest New Zealand XI without any Twenty20 Super Smash players. It was well beyond them at Saxton Oval, bowled out for 221 in the 48th over as Pakistan won by 120 runs.
The tourists picked their best XI, looked sharp and were well up for the 50-over shakedown which confirmed a stern challenge awaits the Black Caps in the five-match ODI series. Not a moment too soon, either, as a poor West Indies team prepare to head home.
Zaman hit 12 fours and three sixes and with fellow opener Azhar Ali (104 retired off 105 balls) plundered 206 off 29 overs for the first wicket against a medium pace attack
Zaman, 27, didn’t make his ODI debut until June, on Pakistan’s run to the Champions Trophy title. In their dream victory over India in the final at The Oval he slayed 114 off 106 balls, and played in every match of Pakistan’s current nine-match ODI winning streak while racking up 400 runs.
In June, Zaman said his time as former New Zealand skipper McCullum’s team-mate with the Lahore Qalanders in the Pakistan Super League was the key to his rapid rise.
“The first time I met him [McCullum], he saw me batting and he told me ‘Fakhar, you’ll play all our matches, but ensure you play this [style of] game everywhere,” Fakhar old us
“I learnt a lot from him… he’s told me so many things that are working for me.”
Pakistan looked set to top 400 until former test offspinner Mark Craig applied the brakes, trapping key batsman Babar Azam lbw for six, and removing veteran Shoaib Malik for one. Craig was the pick of the bowlers, snaring 2-51, while fellow spinner Aniket Parikh had the most success but was also expensive, ending with 3-74 off his 10 overs.
Hasan Ali, the world’s top-ranked ODI bowler after his dream year in 2017, also showed he could hit by blasting four sixes in his 36 off 15 balls.
Pakistan are down on bowlers with Usman Khan, Junaid Khan and Imad Wasim all ruled out with injury, but still boast an impressive attack spearheaded by left-armer Mohammad Amir.
They bowled tight lines, the fielders chased and dived with intent and they were too good for the NZ XI containing some first-class experience. Canterbury’s Michael Davidson (54 off 81 balls) topscored before he was bowled by Hasan.
Faheem Ashraf was too quick and bouncy for openers Ben Beecroft and Jack Boyle while 19-year-old legspinner Shadab Khan, fresh from the Big Bash with McCullum’s Brisbane Heat, was tidy without gaining significant turn.
Shadab ended with 4-52 off 9.1 overs.
At Saxton Oval, Nelson (50-over tour match):
Pakistan 341-9 off 50 overs (Fakhar Zaman 106 retired, Azhar Ali 104 retired, Hasan Ali 36; Aniket Parikh 3-74, Mark Craig 2-51) beat New Zealand XI 221 off 47.1 overs (Michael Davidson 54; Shadab Khan 4-52, Faheem Ashraf 2-21) by 120 runs