Ronnie O’Sullivan fully committed to growth of snooker in Saudi Arabia

Ronnie O’Sullivan fully committed to growth of snooker in Saudi Arabia
Ronnie O’Sullivan fully committed to growth of snooker in Saudi Arabia

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - LAHORE: Experienced allrounder Jimmy Neesham kept his cool to defend six off the last ball to clinch a four-run victory for New Zealand on Thursday in the fourth Twenty20 international against Pakistan in Lahore.

Pakistan needed 18 off the last over in their chase of 179 but Neesham came out in flying colors despite being hit for a boundary off the first ball, giving a packed Qaddafi Stadium crowd heartbreaks.

Opener Tim Robinson hit a maiden half century to lift New Zealand to 178-7 in 20 overs before pacer William O’Rourke claimed 3-27 to keep Pakistan down to 174-8.

Returning allrounder Imad Wasim (22 not out) managed to hit the last ball for a single as New Zealand take an unassailable 2-1 lead in the five-match series with the last game on Saturday, also in Lahore.

Pakistan also lost the third match by seven wickets after winning the first by the same margin while the first match was abandoned after just two balls — all three in Rawalpindi.

The defeats are a jolt to a full-strength Pakistan side in their preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the United States and the West Indies in June.

New Zealand, missing a host of players due to Indian Premier League, injuries and unavailability, can feel elated at their bench strength going into the World Cup.

Pakistan sensed they were in with a chance when Fakhar Zaman, who made 45-ball 61 with three sixes and four boundaries, lifted Pakistan from 79-4 with a 59-run stand for the fifth wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed who made a 20-ball 23.

But O’Rourke, playing only his fourth T20I, dismissed Ahmed to add to his wickets of Babar Azam (five) and Saim Ayub (20) to give New Zealand a boost.

Fellow pacer Ben Sears (2-27) claimed Zaman’s wicket with 33 needed off 14 balls.

Earlier, Robinson batted with aggression.

Robinson’s 36-ball 51 with two sixes and four fours lifted New Zealand — who were sent in to bat — to 93-1 in 10 overs before Abbas Afridi’s career best 3-20 helped Pakistan pull back.

New Zealand started briskly with Robinson and Tom Blundell, who made 28 off 15, putting on 56 for the opening stand in five overs.

But from 94-1 New Zealand lost three wickets, including that of dangerman Mark Chapman for eight, as Pakistan’s fielders held catches to back some good bowling by Abbas.

Dean Foxcroft chipped in with 34 off 26 deliveries and skipper Michael Bracewell added 27 to keep the scoreboard ticking as New Zealand managed 43 in the last five overs.

Pakistan were forced to make five changes as wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan and Muhammad Irfan Khan were injured while they rested Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Abrar Ahmed.

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