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C
cricinfo
November 8, 2018
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NZ beat Pakistan in first ODI

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C
cricinfo
November 8, 2018

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ABU DHABI: New Zealand's 12th successive win against Pakistan was sealed comfortably, despite the visitors playing largely ordinary cricket for much of the contest.

Kane Williamson's men started poorly, fell away towards the end of the innings, and dropped in intensity in the last half of the second innings. And yet, but for a few fleeting overs when Sarfraz Ahmed and Imad Wasim put together a damage-control partnership, the result today was never in doubt.

It was a 130-run partnership between Ross Taylor and Tom Latham in the first innings that set New Zealand on their way to 266, the kind of score that Pakistan have struggled to run down in the UAE. And then a scintillating hat-trick in the third over of the chase from Trent Boult - fresh from paternity leave - ripped chunks out of Pakistan’s top order and effectively killed the game off. The wounds he inflicted on Pakistan were ultimately destined to prove fatal, and condemned Pakistan to a slow, painful death over the 47 overs that followed. Pakistan limped on towards 219 before New Zealand put the official seal of approval on a win that had been several hours in the making.

Taylor and Latham - whose record in Asia stacks up with the best - had turned the tables on Pakistan with their century partnership. But all that changed when Shadab took three wickets in an over, and was desperately unlucky to miss out on a hat-trick of his own. Imad followed by removing Taylor for 80, and from being set up for a big finish, the visitors suddenly found their tail-enders trying to bat out the overs. Only a partial recovery, thanks to big-hitting by Ish Sodhi and Tim Southee, got New Zealand over 260, but they still ended up slightly short of what they were set for half an hour earlier.

That they didn’t have to pay for it was thanks to the heroics of Boult. After the out-of-form Fakhar Zaman played on, Babar Azam edged behind trying to reach for a wide yorker. Reduced to 8 for 2, Mohamad Hafeez walked out to find Boult - who had arrived in the UAE just three days prior - on a hat-trick.

That’s when he chose to produce the best delivery of the lot, an inswinger that crashed into Hafeez’s pads. He burnt a review, trying to deny the left-armer the hat-trick to no avail, and Pakistan had lost their top order cheaply in face of a daunting chase.

From there onwards, there were a number of workmanlike efforts by a number of batsmen who tried to revive Pakistan, but they were simply too far off the pace. Shoaib Malik and Imam-ul-Haq put on 63 before falling within an over of each other, and when Shadab Khan was erroneously given out (he missed the ball by almost a foot) caught behind, it brought Imad and Sarfraz Ahmed together for one last hurrah.

Batting first after winning the toss, the early wickets of the openers immediately consigned New Zealand to grinding out the middle overs, and Kane Williamson did that for a while with Taylor. The spinners were being negotiated well enough, and with Imad not as menacing as he had been in the T20Is, they found a regular outlet to keep the score ticking along. But then Shadab bowled a most un-Shadab delivery, a long-hop, only to see Williamson play an equally uncharacteristic shot to give short midwicket an easy catch. It was awful cricket all round, but the hosts came out of it chuffed with themselves.

Taylor struggled to get going initially, and his frustration manifested itself in controversial fashion after he seemed to question if Mohammad Hafeez was bending his arm beyond the legal limit after his first over. It unleashed outrage from Sarfraz, who complained to the umpire and engaged with Taylor several times. The batsman wasn’t willing to let go as Sarfraz persisted with Hafeez, who chose not to get involved, and for a while there was real edge to the way the game progressed.

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