McCullum’s side eases to seven-wicket win after Afridi, Misbah help Pakistan post 210 in first ODI
With just 14 days to go for the ICC Cricket World Cup, all teams are looking to fine-tune their preparation and polish off the few rough edges before the tournament starts on February 14.
New Zealand has been on track with its preparation and completed another convincing win, this time over Pakistan, in the first of two One-Day Internationals between the teams in Wellington on Saturday (January 31).
Chasing a modest target of 211 for victory, a fine all-round show from Grant Elliott meant the home side didn’t face any trouble and completed the chase in 39.3 overs with seven wickets in hand. Elliott was well supported by Ross Taylor, who scored an unbeaten 59 and added 112 runs with him.
It was Pakistan’s first ODI after the home series in United Arab Emirates against New Zealand before Christmas and the team looked a bit rusty from the beginning. Asked to bat, it was soon reduced to 32 for 3 with Kyle Mills doing most of the damage, picking up the crucial wickets of Mohammad Hafeez (0) and Younis Khan (9).
Misbah-ul-Haq (58) and Haris Sohail (23) tried to steady the rocking ship with a 49-run stand, but Sohail failed to capitalise on the start and was dismissed for 23 by Corey Anderson. Though Misbah kept the scorecard ticking, wickets continued to fall at the other end.
At one stage, the 200-run mark looked unlikely, but Shahid Afridi smashed 67 off 29 balls, in an innings that included nine fours and three sixes, to lift the team to 210 all out in 45.3 overs.
Elliott was the pick of the bowlers for New Zealand, ending with figures of 3 for 26 from 4.3 overs. Mills, Anderson and Trent Boult chipped in with two wickets apiece.
New Zealand clearly looked the better side on the field and then with the bat. Openers Brendon McCullum (17) and Martin Guptill (39) gave the team a flying start, scoring 31 runs in just 3.1 overs before Bilawal Bhatti accounted for McCullum.
Tom Latham and Guptill added 44 runs for the second wicket to take the score to 75 by the end of the 12th over. Afridi completed a good day on the field, ending with figures of 1 for 39 from his ten overs when he dismissed Latham for 23. Though the home side then lost Guptill in the 19th over, Pakistan never threatened to snatch the match away.
The Taylor-Elliott alliance ensured there was no more damage done to the wickets column. Runs flowed at a steady rate of 5.33 per over in the 21 overs the duo batted together.