Five-star Naseem, batters help Pakistan draw first blood against New Zealand.

KARACHI -- Captain Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, Pakistan's batting mainstays in limited-overs cricket, the lodestars on whom they depend on whether chasing or setting a target, were at the crease as the hosts looked to kick off the year of the World Cup with a victory in the first One-day International against New Zealand here on Monday.

Fans had turned up at the National Stadium but it was still less than half full. They'd been treated to an inspired spell of fast bowling by Naseem Shah, whose 5-57 restricted New Zealand to 255-9, before Fakhar Zaman set up the chase with an enterprising half-century, his 56 off 74 balls laying the stage for Pakistan to power on.

But Babar and Rizwan wouldn't be together till the finish; the former getting dismissed for 66 off 82 with Pakistan still needing 88 to win. Rizwan, though, soldiered on despite cramps with his unbeaten 77 taking Pakistan to a six-wicket victory with 11 balls to spare.

'We would've liked a few more runs but credit to Pakistan, they were clinical and better adapted to the conditions here,' rued New Zealand skipper Tim Southee, as his side now look to bounce back in the remaining two games of the series. 'We need to do better in all departments.'

Babar, meanwhile, hailed his performers. 'We utilised the new ball well and the pacers did well in restricting New Zealand. In our chase, the idea was to build partnerships. Fakhar and I had a good one and then Rizwan carried us home.'

When Fakhar was cleaned up by Michael Bracewell after going for a sweep, Pakistan still needed 148 runs to win with just over 23 overs remaining and Babar was already flowing, on 39, when Rizwan arrived.

NEW ZEALAND opener Devon Conway is cleaned up by Pakistan fast bowler Naseem Shah during the first ODI at the National Stadium on Monday.-AFP

Babar had arrived to loud cheers after Imam-ul-Haq had departed for 11 in the sixth over, trying to hit Bracewell over the top but only managing to find the tall frame of debutant Henry Shipley at mid-on.

Fakhar, returning after his injury at last year's T20 World Cup, looked in exquisite touch, flicking, punching and driving - the best of seven boundaries perhaps the drive down the ground off Lockie Ferguson with his full face of the bat.

Babar made a cautious start but once he freed his arms, Mitchell Santner was looking where the ball had travelled. On consecutive deliveries, the New Zealand spinner was first lifted for a six over midwicket and a pull for a four...

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