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Cricket: Tough chase for Black Caps

Trent Boult celebrates his wicket of Shoaib Malik. Photo / Photosport
Trent Boult celebrates his wicket of Shoaib Malik. Photo / Photosport

Despite getting anchored by a 134-run third wicket stand between Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam, Pakistan were bowled out for 290 in 47.3 overs, a fraction of their capability in the third one-day international against New Zealand. They lost their last seven wickets for 75 runs.

However, it's the fifth highest first innings in 70 ODIs at the ground. Only three higher scores have been chased, including India tying with New Zealand's 314 in 2014.

The visitors initially continued on from the victorious batting platform they set in the T20 at the venue.

Live: Black Caps v Pakistan

They reaped the benefits of controlling their strokes, particularly in the direction of the 57m backyard-length straight boundaries.

Led by Hafeez and Azam, they picked off deliveries with discretion rather than trying to smear every ball like a samurai swordsman distracted by a wasp. That caused New Zealand to make four bowling changes at the Walters Rd end from overs nine to 15, rolling through Trent Boult, Corey Anderson, Mitchell Santner and Grant Elliott.

Azam made his highest ODI score of 83 off 77 balls before cutting Henry to Martin Guptill at point, his third catch of the innings after being declared fit to play on his twisted ankle.

He ended with four catches, equalling the New Zealand ODI record by a fielder, held by seven other players.

Hafeez eased to 76 off 60 balls by the end of the 23rd over before heaving Santner to Adam Milne at long leg.

That was the highlight of Santner's allotment. The left-arm orthodox spinner conceded 56 runs from five overs, his most expensive figures in 11 ODI innings. Balletic footwork from the Pakistanis gave them the room to plunder four sixes and three fours. It allowed breathing room for just eight dot balls.

To New Zealand's credit, they hauled Pakistan back from 227 for four in the 34th over (a run rate of 6.78) with a spell of 65 balls which saw three wickets fall for 55 runs.

Matt Henry was the best of the attack, further cementing a consistent ODI reputation with two for 44 from 10 overs. He was the only bowler to concede less than five runs per over.
Elliott provided his Forrest Gump-like box of deliveries on his way to none for 55. Batsmen were never sure of what they were going to get, least of all non-striker Mohammad Rizwan who was run out for 16 when an Elliott touch on a Sarfaraz Ahmed drive hit the stumps.

Sarfaraz gave the innings restricted momentum as part of 41 off 49 balls, but Pakistan lost impetus with the protection of the lower order in the latter overs.

Three Milne wickets for 49 runs mopped up the tail.

What looked an insurmountable haul is now a realistic chase.

- By Andrew Alderson at Eden Park

- NZ Herald

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