| A jubilant New Zealand team with the tri-series trophy in Dambulla Friday. (Reuters)
Dambulla: Stephen Fleming top-scored with 65 to guide New Zealand to a four-wicket victory over Pakistan in the tri-series final Friday.
The Black Caps lost the toss but bowled out Pakistan for 198 and then built on the foundation provided by Fleming to reach 200 for six in 45.2 overs.
The victory fulfilled Fleming’s desire to add a rare overseas one-day tournament win to the ICC KnockOut triumph in Kenya in 2000.
New Zealand’s task was made simpler by the absence of Shoaib Akhtar — sitting out his first match after being suspended for two ODIs on ball tampering charges.
Fleming, who struck three sixes and five boundaries off 111 deliveries, shared two fruitful partnerships with Chris Nevin and Lou Vincent before being caught at covers off Mohammed Sami.
Scott Styris was dismissed by the same bowler three balls later as New Zealand slipped to 152 for four from a commanding 151 for two. Jacob Oram then slammed three consecutive boundaries to boost the chase and though he was dismissed soon after, New Zealand reached the target without any serious scare.
Sami came back from an erratic first spell to claim three for 42, but Pakistan conceded 44 extras — the second highest score in New Zealand’s innings — to miss out on their second successive title. They had won the Sharjah Cup last month.
Earlier, Younis Khan slammed 70 off 85 balls, his 17th half-century in 83 ODIs, to give Pakistan a fighting chance despite a poor start.
The right-hander rescued Pakistan from 56 for four in the 20th over and shared vital partnerships with Shoaib Malik and captain Rashid Latif.
Pakistan got off to a bad start by losing two wickets for just 11 runs. Opener Mohammed Hafeez was caught behind on the fourth ball of the match, giving Daryl Tuffey a first-over wicket for the 11th time in 51 ODIs.
Yasir Hameed, who made an impressive debut in the last league game against New Zealand Tuesday, was then trapped leg-before by Kyle Mills.
Debutant opener Faisal Athar was dismissed by Oram and when Yusuf Youhana was run out after making 25 off 56 balls with three boundaries, Pakistan were in deep trouble.
Younis resurrected the innings with some bold and adventurous shots. He added 57 in 73 balls with Malik and put on 43 off 47 with Latif and it seemed Pakistan would post a bigger total.
Pakistan were on course to set the highest total of the tournament, but lost momentum in the final overs, losing their last four wickets for 19 runs.
Oram (three for 38) and Tuffey (three for 32) were the most successful bowlers for New Zealand. (Agencies)