Cricket: Vettori relieved at rare series win

New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori's focus is understandably on a historic cricket series defeat of Pakistan rather than the desperate nature of this morning's (NZT) seven-run win.

Pakistan tailenders Mohammad Aamer and Saeed Ajmal very nearly stole a miraculous victory in Abu Dhabi, their final-wicket stand of 103 sending Vettori and his men into a state of frenzy.

Relief was palpable when No 11 Ajmal holed out off Jacob Oram for 33 on the first ball of the final over, handing New Zealand a 2-1 win, their first away series defeat of Pakistan.

The sides had played five previous ODI series in Pakistan since 1984/85 - all won by the hosts.

"For us to come over here and win as confidently as we did in the last two games is something I know a lot of the guys will cherish," Vettori said.

"The wickets and the atmosphere are very similar to Pakistan - there's a lot of support for Pakistan here and it's like a Pakistan home game.

"The key thing is it's a victory and no matter how you achieve it, it's still a series win. And tour wins for New Zealand sides away from home - we don't have that many."

Pakistan's 204 was an even more lopsided innings than New Zealand's 211 all out, built largely on 76 off 78 balls from opener Brendon McCullum.

Having recovered from the onslaught of Pakistan 17-year-old Mohammad Aamer - whose unbeaten 73 was easily the highest by any No 10 in ODI history - Vettori praised his team's cool approach under pressure.

Despite his on-field animation in the closing overs, Vettori said he had remained confident of victory and was happy to toss the ball to Oram for the final over.

"I always backed us to get a wicket. I think when you only need one wicket you probably try a bit hard to get it," he said.

"We backed Jacob to do it - he's bowled the last over a few times for us and he's done a really good job."

Vettori singled out the rejuvenated batting form of wicketkeeper and player of the series McCullum, who followed up his matchwinning 131 from the second game.

That had been the key to New Zealand turning around their heavy 138-run loss in the first match of the series.

Also worthy of praise was young seamer Tim Southee - whose return of two for 26 off 10 overs today was bettered only by Oram's three for 20 off 9.1.

"Brendon played exceptionally well again, he's probably the only batsman who made it look really easy in the last two games while everyone else struggled a bit," Vettori said.

"Tim Southee was outstanding for a guy who's only played twenty-odd one-dayers.

"This shows the confidence of the team - there's still quite a lot of young inexperienced players in there and some guys really stepped up today.

"They'll take confidence from it and hopefully take it into the Twenty20s as well." Vettori will be concerned with the middle and lower order's inability to handle spin. McCullum's departure in the 27th over prompted New Zealand to surrender eight wickets for 73 as offspinner Ajmal claimed four scalps.

Ajmal and Aamer's stand was three runs short of the world record 10th-wicket partnership set by West Indies greats Vivian Richards and Michael Holding, against England in Manchester in 1984.

However, audacious teenager Aamer penned his name in the record books, easily eclipsing the previous best ODI score by a No 10 - Douglas Marillier's 56 for Zimbabwe against India at New Delhi in 2002.

"It wasn't until the last 30-40 runs that it felt like the game was starting to slip away from us," McCullum said.

"I thought they (last pair) played brilliantly."

McCullum hoped personal and team momentum could continue into the two Twenty20 matches in Dubai on Friday and Saturday (NZT).

"We pride ourselves on our shorter version of the game. We've done well in this series and it's another opportunity to perform well away from home."


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