Go 1-0 Up in Series
The first match of the ODI series kicked off with Pakistan winning the toss at Dubai and electing to field first. Devcich and Brownlie were the new opening combination for New Zealand today and they faced the come back duo of Gul and Irfan with the new ball.
Some tidy overs were bowled by the two bowlers with Brownlie pulling one short delivery off Irfan towards the boundary. However, he was out next ball on a similar delivery where he was caught by Ahmed at point for 14 runs.
New Zealand were 26/1 when Captain Williamson arrived in the sixth over. Williamson looked in good touch when he hit back to back boundaries on Irfan through the covers and mid wicket but his stay didn’t last long as he pulled one straight in the air for an easy catch to Sarfraz off Irfan’s bowling.
Score was now 44/2 when Taylor joined Devcich. In the meanwhile Misbah introduced Wahab Riaz and part time bowler Haris into the attack. Wahab was hit for one boundary in his over where as the part time spinner Haris straight away produced a stumping opportunity of Devcich, only for Sarfraz to mis the ball completely. Two quiet overs for New Zealand resulted in pressure on Devcich, who played down the wrong line as he edged one straight to keeper off Wahab’s bowling.
He went for 26 and New Zealand were 63 /3, when Tom Latham joined Taylor the two slowly looked to build a partnership in the middle overs miking spinners for singles and Taylor hitting an odd boundary in the partnership. Taylor looking for a single misjudged the fielder standing at covers which happened to be Younis Khan and ran for a risky run resulting in Tom Latham getting run-out for 13. Score was 99/4 when Neesham walked into the middle but he could only contribute 1 run to the team total as he was given out LBW off Afridi’s bowling.
New Zealand were 111/5 when Ronchi walked in, Taylor and Ronchi shared a 44 run stand where Taylor brought up his half century and Ronchi pulled and edged one in the air for a brilliant catch by Younis off Irfan’s bowling. New Zealand were 155/6 when Vettori joined Taylor and both made a 58 run partnership for 7th wicket where they attacked Pakistani bowlers for boundaries and sixes.
Vettori took on Wahab and hit 2 back to back fours before getting bowled by Wahab for 27 runs. New Zealand were 213/7, when McCullum joined Taylor who was closing in on a hundred. 33 runs were added by both of them where Taylor made his hundred and the New Zealand brought their total to 246/7 in 50 overs.
Pakistan started the chase cautiously with Hafeez and Shehzad opening the innings. Only 5 runs were scored in the first 24 deliveries and Hafeez was bowled in the 5th over for 6 runs by Mills. Score was 13/1 when Asad joined Shehzad, Asad was struggling for his stay at the crease. The 27 runs scored between them were mostly due to Shehzad who scored 22 in the partnership. Asad got out scoring only 5 runs when he gave an easy catch to point fielder Devcich off Neesham’s bowling.
Younis Khan Joined Shehzad in the middle only to lose Shehzad as he misread a quicker one to get dismissed LBW by Vettori for 28. Pakistan were in absolute shambles when Haris Sohail walked into the middle. Younis and Haris added only 12 runs together as Younis swept a quicker one straight in to the fielder’s hand at deep backward square leg off Vettori’s bowling.
Score was 52 /6 when Captain walked in to the middle. Misbah and Haris tried to put up a fight and scored 34 runs together. Couple of boundaries were scored until Misbah got caught by Vettori at mid-on for a marvelous one hand catch off Neesham’s bowling. Misbah departed for 13 and Sarfraz was the next man in, score was 86/5 he came and played a little cameo where he hit 3 fours for his 26.
He got out trying to clear the long on fielder Milne on McCullum’s bowling. Afridi walked in next and he and Haris kept Pakistan in the game when they put up a century run stand with Afridi playing a very un-afridiesque innings, a very patient and sensible knock of 61 which brought the team close to victory. Afridi was run out by Taylor when he was looking for a quick single but the calm and composed Haris kept his cool and showed tremendous temperament and nerves as he took Pakistan home along with Wahab.
A wonderful and memorable victory which finally stopped the rot as far as Pakistan’s recent ODI loss record is concerned. It also allowed Haris Sohail to live up to his potential and showed a new side of Shahid Afridi. However, questions of selection for this team will linger. Both Younis Khan and Asad Shafiq came into this game with a very ordinary reputation in the ODI format and nothing that we saw today would have changed that impression. The pressure to change the team for the 2nd ODI in Sharjah on the 12th of December will be immense on Misbah, but will he oblige?