Babar Azam keeps Pakistan in semi hunt

So far, three teams, South Africa, West Indies and Afghanistan, have been knocked out of the tournament.

Sarfaraz Ahmed's side, who beat South Africa on Sunday to revive their flagging World Cup campaign, now have seven points, level with fifth-placed Bangladesh and just one point behind hosts England.

Speaking to Geo in Birmingham after Pakistan's remarkable victory, Akram said the team deserved praise for the way they won the game against New Zealand.

A critical game in the race for that semi-final berth will be played at Edgbaston between Pakistan and New Zealand, with the latter now remaining undefeated in the tournament. "It will be interesting to see how England would proceed with its remaining games against India and New Zealand", Akram added.

Babar held his nerves through the tough period, and once it got easy, worked around to score his 10th ODI century - first by a Pakistani in this World Cup - and arguably his finest.

The match was delayed by overnight rain and New Zealand collapsed to 46-4 after deciding to bat.

When is New Zealand vs Pakistan taking place? .

New Zealand, who have never won a World Cup, have reached the semi-finals six times and lost to Australia in the 2015 final in Melbourne. It took a superb legspinner's delivery from Shadab Khan to remove him and New Zealand were 83-5 in the 27th.

"They must be given the credit for such an outstanding performance", a visibly pleased Akram said on Pakistan's win. "They've got matchwinners in their side, so it's going to be crucial for us to take wickets with the new ball".

"I thought our guys fought really well and in the big scheme of things if we lose it's important we don't lose by big margins, the net run rate wasn't significantly affected", he told Radio Sport Breakfast.

New Zealand's decision to play only one frontline spinner eventually backfired, as with a low score to defend the pacers were much easier to work around, and with lesser risks.

For Pakistan, Mohammad Amir has been the lone star with the ball.

Still well within the hunt for a cherished top-four berth, Pakistan have been indebted to the exceptional form of Amir for helping to keep their qualification hopes alive.

But no team is unbeatable and New Zealand looked vulnerable against South Africa and the West Indies but it was skipper Williamson's twin hundreds which helped them seal the wins.

But despite beating the bat on numerous occasions, Santner went wicketless, and it was captain Williamson who was the partnership breaker, striking in his first over in 13 ODIs as Mohammad Hafeez holed out to deep midwicket.

  • Julie Sanders