Pakistan 287 for 6 wickets (Imam 90, Babar 54, Henry 3-54) defeated new zealand 261 (Blundell 65, McConchie 62*, Naseem 2-41) by 26 runs
When Daryl Mitchell and Blundell were together it seemed that New Zealand would once again close down the opening, but when the in-form Mitchell dismissed Mohammad Wasim, Pakistan started to take the lead in the contest. Runs dribbled in the next four overs, and this brought its own pressure as they set out for a second run that was not there, only to find Blundell well short of his ground.
New Zealanders seemed to be at their wits’ end; In fact, there were many more run-out opportunities and the ease with which the top three showed against Pakistan’s bowlers was never seen before. The fast bowlers also stepped up their game; Naseem Shah clean bowled Mark Chapman, beating him with his pace and uprooting his off stump. Wasim did the same to Tom Latham as the off-colour skipper tried to spoon one to fine leg. Henry Nicholls was soon dismissed by Agha and New Zealand were suddenly at 92 with only four wickets and 52 balls remaining.
McConchie ensured Pakistan were kept honest till the end, although with Shaheen Shah Afridi in his best yorker-hitting form, it always looked as if the game was already out of New Zealand’s reach. The debutant then held on to his luck when he was dismissed early, before some brilliantly clean deliveries of both pace and spin gave his team a glimmer of hope, with a brilliant six off Afridi Completed a good half-century. But they were lacking support at the other end, proving too good for the left-arm pacers Adam Milne and Ish Sodhi, and New Zealand’s challenge, perhaps ended in desperation to get back on strike in the final overs. Appropriately, another run out.
Eventually New Zealand won the toss and Latham put Pakistan in. Batting first, Pakistan often became more composed than chasing the target, and New Zealand’s early discipline with the ball further aggravated this. Only 12 runs were scored in the first five overs in the sweltering Karachi afternoon and after this Fakhar Zaman tried to escalate matters, but a short ball from Henry got him out cheaply.
Babar and Imam have been Pakistan’s most prolific pair statistically over the last four years, and they came together for another edition of the same today. They added 107 runs for the second wicket, although it was really just that – accumulation. The sense of urgency during the middle overs was somewhat missing in most modern teams, and while both players scored half-centuries, it was telling that by the time Henry had pulled Babar back onto his stumps, Pakistan had lost control. Had handled.
Pakistan’s reliance on the top three – and the general absence of big power hitting at the death – meant that Imam was vital for a big finish, but he also left his stumps ten shy of a hundred, allowing the score to go past 300. Responsibility would come. On a weak middle order. New Zealand started to pull things back after Abdullah Shafiq and Agha Salman were out cheaply and Milne dismissed Mohammad Rizwan for 31 when Pakistan’s death overs efforts looked to be in need.
However, this paved the way for the arrival of Shadab Khan. His quick cameo – 21 not out from 10 – suggested he got into rhythm very late. Pakistan may have felt that their tactics cost them a few runs, but a superb bowling effort matched by the quality of the fielding ensured that they denied New Zealand even more runs.
Daniel Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danny61000