Bengaluru, Nov 4 (PTI) Fakhar Zaman underlined his liking for New Zealand bowling while smashing an unbeaten 126 to guide Pakistan to a crucial World Cup win on Saturday, and the opener understandably rated the innings as one the best in his career.
In fact, this was the fourth century Zaman made against the Kiwis this year with him striking 101 in Karachi, 117 and 180 not out at Rawalpindi earlier this year.
But in the context of Pakistan retaining their World Cup semifinal hopes, the day's knock carried a lot of situational significance.
Zaman acknowledged it. "This is one of my best (centuries), I will always remember my 193 against South Africa but this is one of my best," he said during the post-match presentation.
At the time, the rain interruption arrived, Pakistan were 200 for 1 in 25.3 overs with DLS calculations in vogue.
Zaman was candid enough to remark that the team was hoping for a no resumption.
"We were praying for it," he said and added that captain Babar Azam, his partner during their 194-run alliance, was in constant touch with the team management to know the exact calculations.
"We had thought that it will rain and planned accordingly. We sent a message to the management after 15 overs, that it is drizzling, so tell us how many overs -– because we knew that before 20 overs the DLS Method is not applicable. So, we asked them about the target we need to achieve in 20 overs," said Zaman.
Zaman had missed the earlier part of the World Cup with a knee injury and upon his comeback, the opener made an 81 against Bangladesh before racking up a hundred against the Kiwis here.
The 33-year-old said he was working on his game even when he was on the sidelines.
"I was working hard on my fitness because I was suffering from an injury. Even during the Asia Cup, it was not a good time for me.
"So, I went to my fielding coach's academy in Peshawar, he was also an off-spinner in his time. He worked a lot on me. Here, I spent a lot of time with my batting coach. Today, I was lucky because of my performance the team has won," he said.
Zaman dedicated the innings to his personal coach.
"I would like to dedicate (this innings) to my fielding coach Aftab Khan (his coach). He gave me a lot of time to improve my weaknesses, no one does that. You need such people," he added.
Zaman felt Pakistan have regained the rhythm with two victories after losing four matches in a row, and he hoped to maintain it for the crunch match against England at Kolkata.
"The main thing is rhythm, which I think we have got now. The good thing about our team and management is that they stay positive.
"We still believe that we can play the semifinals and also the finals But let's see because we are also looking to the Sri Lanka and New Zealand game. We are hopeful that it will go our way,” he added.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson too lauded Zaman for his brilliant innings.
"He swung seriously hard and he hit everything out of the middle of his bat. He's a very aggressive, dynamic player. Today was probably one of his finest efforts.
"We know how dangerous he is and we knew that his would be a big wicket because he certainly won't die wondering. He played a special knock that ultimately got them across the line," said Williamson. PTI UNG AM UNG AM AM