Home side go 1-0 up with 61-run DLS victory over Pakistan in first ODI.
Kane Williamson’s tenth One-Day International century followed by a Tim Southee spell that took the heart out of Pakistan’s batting line-up gave New Zealand a 61-run win by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method in the opening ODI in Wellington on Saturday (January 6).
Pakistan will need to recalibrate their plans ahead of the second ODI in Nelson on Tuesday, but the first match on tour would have been a good learning experience. Perhaps the biggest lesson would be to not allow Williamson a reprieve. The New Zealand captain was dropped on 26 by his counterpart, Sarfraz Ahmed. Williamson went on to score a 117-ball 115, helping his side post 315/7, only being dismissed in the 48th over.
Southee then had two of the Pakistan batsmen back in the dressing room in five balls, in an excellent spell of swing bowling. Pakistan were reduced to 13/3, and then 37/4; from that point, it was always unlikely that they would threaten. Fakhar Zaman fought, and was unbeaten on an 86-ball 82, having taken his side to 166/6 in 30.1 overs when the umpires finally called off play due to rain.
Southee’s first victim was Azhar Ali. A full, straight delivery trapped the batsman plumb in front, and Ali reviewed, hoping it would be going down leg.
One ball later, Babar Azam followed him back for a golden duck, Southee getting this one to shape into Azam’s pads.
Trent Boult then got into the act, with Mohammad Hafeez playing a loose hook straight to the fielder.
Shoaib Malik became Southee’s third victim, caught behind after being forced to poke at one.
Pakistan were assiduous for a while thereafter, working to keep wickets intact. Boundaries were few and far between, and even singles were hard to come by. The 17-run fifth-wicket stand between Sarfraz and Zaman took 42 balls before Todd Astle got one to straighten and had Sarfraz rapped on the pads. Pakistan were 54/4.
It was then that Zaman decided to lift the anchor, and Mitchell Santner came in for a beating. Zaman pummelled him for consecutive sixes, Santner not helping things by bowling in his arc. Shadab Khan wasn’t hesitant to have a pop either, and the two added 78 runs for the sixth wicket. Zaman brought up his half-century off 63 balls.
Eventually, Shadab mistimed a pull, and was caught behind off Boult for a 32-ball 28.
Faheem Ashraf swung his bat, scoring a 15-ball 17, before the rain came. The match was called off a little over an hour later.
New Zealand’s innings was a study in contrasts. Where Pakistan failed to put on partnerships, New Zealand excelled. They got off to an excellent start, with Colin Munro and Martin Guptill adding 83 for the opening wicket.
Munro was the aggressor; his 35-ball 58 was typically entertaining, but he always ran the risk of miscuing one. He did, to Hasan Ali, and Pakistan had the breakthrough in the 13th over.
There was no implosion though. Williamson and Guptill controlled the middle overs, aided by a slice of fortune when Sarfraz dropped Williamson off Ashraf. Guptill freed his arms slowly, finding the fence a few times, but the adventurousness came at a cost: he popped a catch to point off Zaman.
Hasan then returned to knock Ross Taylor's off stump and Tom Latham followed suit shortly thereafter. Pakistan finally asserted themselves.
However, Williamson and Henry Nicholls combined to devastating effect. They complemented each other well – Nicholls took over run-scoring duties seamlessly when Williamson approached his century – and it was a fine mesh of traditional and unorthodox. The two added 90 runs for the fifth wicket, although Pakistan will be content with only allowing 38 runs in the last five overs.
Williamson, however, believed that the total flattered New Zealand. “It (the ball) was holding in the wicket a little bit, and you come to a point in your innings where you either address it sensibly and accept that’s what it is doing, or you do something silly,” he said. “Today I was a little bit more sensible and accepting of the fact that they did bowl well for a long time there, and I felt we were perhaps fortunate to get that above 300 score. They did execute their plans well, the wind was tough to deal with, and maybe that’s where we gained an upper hand, but you do ebb and flow through an innings.”
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