New Zealand seals series 3-2 with 68-run win over Pakistan after Williamson, Taylor masterclass
With the top order misfiring, Pakistan's middle order has been tested during the five-match One-Day International series against New Zealand. On Friday (December 16) in Abu Dhabi, Pakistan was 38 for 3 and it was Ahmed Shehzad (54) and Haris Sohail (65) who faced a tough task of seeing the home side through to victory.
But it wasn't to be. A hostile show of pace bowling from the visiting side on a slow pitch coupled with excellent batting from Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor resulted in Pakistan being bowled out for 207 in 43.3 overs, giving New Zealand a 68-run win and a 3-2 series victory.
Chasing 276, Pakistan lost Nasir Jamshed in the very first over. Younis Khan (12) – caught by Luke Ronchi off Matt Henry - and Asad Shafiq (7), dismissed lbw by Anton Devcich, followed soon after. With New Zealand seizing control with quick wickets, Shehzad and Sohail resisted for a brief period. The duo added 69 runs for the fourth wicket but the slow-and-steady approach set Pakistan too far behind.
Pakistan was reduced to 67 for 3 in 20 overs, mostly due to the relentless trio of Matt Henry (5 for 30), Adam Milne and Mitchell McClenaghan. Henry, who finished his first spell at 5-0-9-2, started the collapse with his second spell in the 29th over. Trying to accelerate, Shehzad scooped a simple catch to Williamson at mid-on off Henry. 14 balls later, Umar Akmal (6) smashed a long-hop straight to Martin Guptill at mid wicket off Nathan McCullum.
As the runs dried up, even with the batting Power Play yielding 36 runs, Pakistan started feeling the pressure. Sohail brought up his first ODI fifty, but departed soon after. And a quick-fire 26 off 24 from Sarfaraz Ahmed wasn’t good enough on the day as Pakistan eventually fell short of the target. Henry got the prize-wicket of Shahid Afridi (13) to scalp his first five-wicket haul in ODIs.
Earlier, Williamson, who made a match-winning 123 in the previous ODI, was at it again, smacking 97 from 119 balls while Taylor finished unbeaten on 88.
New Zealand lost Guptill (8) early and then Dean Brownlie (34) in the 20th over after a 66-run stand with Williamson.
Taylor and Willianson were initially circumspect after Brownlie’s wicket but never got bogged down, finding the occasional boundary to frustrate Pakistan.
New Zealand went past the 200-run mark with more than eight overs remaining and with two well-set batsmen at the crease, a late flourish was on the cards. Both the batsmen made their intentions very clear at the beginning of the batting Power Play - with Williamson hitting Babar for two consecutive boundaries in the very first over. The visiting side managed to score 35 runs in the Power Play, but more importantly kept wickets in hand.
By far the best batsman of the series with 346 runs at 86.50, Williamson has perished between the scores 50 to 89 seven times in his ODI career. On this occasion, he went past that mark but was snared by Afridi in the 43rd over, trying to sweep but managing a top edge onto his helmet. He was caught by Sarfaraz Ahmed, the wicketkeeper, falling short of a well-deserved ton by three runs. The Williamson-Taylor alliance, however, fetched New Zealand 116 runs – the fourth century partnership between them in eight innings.
With Ronchi joining Taylor in the middle, the latter took it upon himself to do the heavy lifting. He smashed Anwar Ali for a six over long-on to hit the first six of the innings in the 44th over. Ronchi (16) too chipped in. The wicketkeeper-batsman scored at a brisk pace but perished trying to up the ante, miscuing a shot straight to Afridi at mid-off off Irfan in the 47th over. Tom Latham remained unbeaten on 22 off 14 balls at the end.
Afridi (1 for 33) troubled the batsmen with his incisive bowling, but New Zealand still scored 120 runs in the last 15 overs.