13 December 2014
New Zealand levels after four-wicket win
Kane Williamson shepherds chase expertly after pacers bowl Pakistan out for 252
Kane Williamson scored an unbeaten 70 off 91 balls.
But five overs into the match, Pakistan was tottering at 21 for 3, and any hopes of touching that average looked bleak. It took resuscitating knocks from Mohammad Hafeez, Haris Sohail, and Misbah himself to ensure that Pakistan got to 252 in 48.3 overs before being bowled out.
In the end, however, that effort was negated by a mature unbeaten 70 off 91 balls from Kane Williamson, who, along with Luke Ronchi, led the way as New Zealand cantered to a four-wicket win – its first against Pakistan in an ODI in Sharjah – after a few hiccups in the middle overs.
Chasing 253, New Zealand got off to a great start with Anton Devcich and Dean Brownlie stringing together an opening partnership of 103 off 110 balls.
This was the first time a New Zealand opening pair had put up a century stand in an ODI since October 2011, when Rob Nicol and Martin Guptill put together 153 against Zimbabwe in Harare.
Pakistan tried everything, including five bowlers inside the first 12 overs, but had little success as the two batsmen approached the innings with utmost cautiousness.
It was finally Shahid Afridi, who got Pakistan the first breakthrough in the 19th over, going past Brownlie (47 in 61 balls) with a sharp-turning googly.
Williamson, batting at No. 3, then batted with Devcich for a short while before a terrible mix-up between the two led to an easy run out that cost Devcich after he had contributed 58 off 66 balls. Devcich's wicket seemed to trigger panic in the New Zealand camp, with Ross Taylor, Tom Latham and Corey Anderson falling quickly, the total slipping to 167 for 5 soon.
But Williamson and Ronchi (36 in 32 balls) resurrected the chase with a crucial sixth-wicket partnership of 58 off 61 balls that paved the way for New Zealand's victory.
Earlier, Matt Henry, playing only his third ODI, had Ahmed Shehzad caught behind for zero in the first over of the match. Six balls later, Younis Khan edged Mitchell McClenaghan to Ross Taylor at first slip. Henry returned to go past Asad Shafiq in the fifth over before Hafeez, who had watched the top order crumble from the non-striker’s end, was joined by Haris Sohail.
Sohail, who had taken Pakistan over the line with a gallant unbeaten 85 in the first ODI, and Hafeez then added 77 from 94 balls before Corey Anderson got Sohail to play a rash shot to a short delivery, Taylor taking the catch at cover.
That brought Misbah and Hafeez together with Pakistan at 97 for 4.
Hafeez, who had gone past his half-century in the 19th over, anchored the innings, while Misbah played the role of the aggressor once he got his eye in.
Henry was easily the pick of the New Zealand bowlers, denting Pakistan further with the wicket of Hafeez (76) in the 35th over at a stage when it looked on course for a good total with the fifth-wicket partnership having added 66 off 85 balls. Hafeez hit nine fours and a six in his 92-ball innings.
Misbah fell to Henry two overs later when he tried to pull a short ball that appeared to kiss his gloves on its way to Luke Ronchi behind the stumps. Misbah reviewed the decision but had to leave after Joel Wilson, the TV umpire, agreed to the decision made by the on-field umpires. Misbah made 47 from 65 balls with two fours and two sixes.
It was then up to Afridi, batting at No. 8, to give Pakistan a good finish, and he played his part, smashing three sixes in his 14-ball 27.
Late cameos from Sarfraz Ahmed (23 in 31 balls), Wahab Riaz (14 in 19 balls) and Sohail Tanvir (14 in 10 balls) helped Pakistan reach a total that was above par keeping the Sharjah statistic in mind, but not enough to keep the visitors at bay.
Henry finished with 4 for 45 from his ten overs, while McClenaghan had 3 for 56.
With this win, New Zealand levelled the five-match ODI series 1-1. The teams earlier drew both the three-Test series and the two-match Twenty20 International series 1-1.
Please click here to see the full scorecard of Pakistan v New Zealand in Sharjah.
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