Raees, Hasan limit New Zealand to 257 on slow pitch


Innings New Zealand 257 (Williamson 73, Taylor 52, Raees 3-51, Hasan 3-59) v Pakistan
Live scorecard and ball-by-ball details

The pitch in Dunedin was expected to be slower than others, but that was an understatement. In scrappy, turgid conditions for batting, New Zealand’s batsmen showed patience and temperament, stringing together several excellent partnerships to post a total of 257. Given they had done much of the hard work in the first 40 overs, that will disappoint them, with Pakistan, led by Rumman Raees and Hasan Ali, taking wickets in clumps in the final few overs, and giving themselves an excellent opportunity to keep the series alive.

After Kane Williamson won his first toss of the series and opted to bat, it looked like Colin Munro and Martin Guptill would play like they usually do. The first two sixes came within eight balls, both openers sending one over the rope.

But it soon became evident that that strategy wouldn’t be sustainable. Munro fell in the second over, having misjudged the pace and bounce of a delivery, lobbing it straight up to Sarfraz Ahmed.

That brought Williamson and Guptill together, and the run rate came steadily down. It was a difficult wicket to get set on, and the two batsmen rotated the strike instead of taking risks, aware of the importance of kicking on from a start. Williamson occasionally used his feet to the fast bowlers – with some success – but timing proved elusive for both batsmen, and the innings became a grind.

But after doing much of the hard work, with a partnership 69 of 111 balls, New Zealand threw it away in the most unforgivable manner. Under pressure owing to the difficulty of scoring runs, Williamson drove Shadab to deep point and set off for a risky two. Guptill, caught ball-watching, found himself horribly stranded in the middle of the pitch, and even a full-length drive couldn’t prevent the run-out.

Ross Taylor looked like he found it easier to settle in. He was able to manoeuvre the gaps more effectively than any other batsman, as two early boundaries off Shadab Khan set the tone of the partnership.

Given the nature of the surface, Pakistan unsurprisingly turned to Shoaib Malik to get through some overs. While he didn’t bowl poorly, it meant Pakistan were somewhat anodyne through the middle overs, not looking for wickets as much as they might have done. Williamson survived an lbw shout on review, but besides that, New Zealand picked up the scoring rate, with the captain looking much more assured after passing a gritty half-century.

Pakistan were beginning to look desperate for a wicket, and it arrived two balls after the drinks break. Williamson came down the wicket in an attempt to clear mid-off off Raees’ bowling, but didn’t quite find the timing and Hafeez held on to peg New Zealand back.

Taylor and Tom Latham built another intelligent partnership, but two in two balls from Shadab triggered a New Zealand collapse that saw them restricted to just over 250. Taylor was the first to go, uncharacteristically missing a straight, short one from Shadab, and Nicholls was dismissed off a golden duck thanks to a stunning return catch.

From that point on, Pakistan’s fast bowlers smelled blood. No one from the lower order was allowed to settle, and a clever mix of length and pace kept the batsmen regularly off balance. Mitchell Santner, Todd Astle and Tim Southee could make no real impression, and only a final over rearguard from Trent Boult took his side over 250. Even so, New Zealand had lost their last seven wickets for 48 runs.

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