An unexpectedly frugal bowling spell and an unbeaten fifty from Haris Sohail helped Pakistan take a 1-0 lead with a slender three-wicket win against New Zealand in Dubai. Chasing 247, Pakistan were 86 for 5, and then 124 for 6, before Sohail steered the chase in the company of Shahid Afridi to take them home with three balls to spare.
Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl primarily due to the dew factor. But with only four frontline bowlers, and Mohammad Hafeez suspended from bowling, Sohail chipped in as the fifth bowler with 10 consecutive overs to concede only 39 runs.
"It's a big issue for us [fifth bowler] and that's why we've been trying and that's why we played Haris. I think he did very well with the ball," Misbah said. "We are going to try in the next game and see how we can fill in that slot so at least we have a fifth and sixth bowler so we can go into the World Cup with that sort of combination where we have at least six bowlers."
Pakistan were rocked early by Kyle Mills and dented further by Daniel Vettori before Sohail came out at No. 5 and was joined by Afridi at the score of 124 for 6 in the 31st over. With New Zealand on top, Sohail's unbeaten 85, his maiden ODI fifty and now highest score, snatched the win from the visitors as he displayed a fighting innings when the chips were down. His lofted drives against the spinners and boundaries towards the end against the pacers kept Pakistan in the hunt and he kept his nerves till the end despite losing Afridi in the 48th over.