New Zealand rout Pakistan

The Wisden Bulletin by Charlie Austin

May 11, 2003

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New Zealand upset the formbook at the Rangiri Dambulla International Stadium, snapping Pakistan's six-match post-World Cup winning streak with an emphatic seven-wicket victory - with 22.4 overs to spare - in the second low-scoring match of the competition.

A spiteful pitch, which offered excessive movement off the seam, combined with disciplined pace bowling and some spectacular catching, resulted in Pakistan being bundled out for a paltry 116 in 43.1 overs.

Pakistan's fast bowlers may have turned around their opening match against Sri Lanka, but this time they needed to do a Houdini. After the now-customary brotherly huddle before taking the field, Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami tore up the turf with effort. Akhtar's second spell was particularly furious, as he peppered the New Zealand batsmen with a barrage of short balls from around the wicket.

They beat the bat, bruised bodies and also created opportunities - Chris Nevin was dropped at second slip by Younis Khan on 2. But New Zealand were always in control after a brisk start from Nevin, who sped onto 28 from 29 balls, hitting four fours, before edging a catch into the slips (42 for 1).

Abdul Razzaq winkled out two further wickets - as Stephen Fleming top-edged a pull to be caught for 21 and Scott Styris steered a catch to backward point - but Lou Vincent (25 not out) and Chris Cairns (18 not out) guided New Zealand home with an unbroken 35-run stand for the fourth wicket.

The only disappointment for New Zealand was a back strain for Shane Bond, their premier pace bowler. He had made a major contribution in the morning, taking 2 for 7 from five penetrative overs. The management refused to confirm whether he was a doubt for Tuesday's clash against Sri Lanka.

In the morning, Bond and his colleagues relished the opportunity to bowl first under overcast skies. Four of Pakistan's top six were dismissed for zero and only four players reached double figures, as they slid to 17 for 5 within the first hour.

Two mini-recoveries followed. First, Taufeeq Umar and Shoaib Malik added 25 for the sixth wicket, before a double strike from Styris pushed them back into a hole at 51 for 7. Then, Rashid Latif and Akhtar clubbed 45 in 70 balls to avert a complete catastrophe. Akhtar's 27 (38 balls), which included two thunderous sixes, was the highest score of the innings.

Mohammad Hafeez, the man of the match against Sri Lanka with a gritty 53, was the first victim, edging the fourth ball of the innings from Daryl Tuffey to Styris. Three overs later, Faisal Iqbal traipsed back to the pavilion after a Bond inswinger knocked back his off stump (2 for 2).

Pakistan's most experienced batsmen - Yousuf Youhana and Younis Khan - departed in unfortunate circumstances. Youhana was bowled via his pad by Bond and Khan had every right to feel aggrieved about being given out leg-before as he padded away a delivery from Tuffey - the ball would most likely have climbed over the top of the stumps (12 for 4).

Wicket number five was claimed by Jacob Oram as Razzaq, one of the allrounders who could have blasted Pakistan out of trouble, edged a lifting delivery and Styris plucked the ball out of the air with his right hand (17 for 5).

Umar and Malik saved Pakistan from the possible embarrassment of a lowest-ever score - 43 against the West Indies at Cape Town in 1992-3 - but run-scoring was never easy. Pakistan had to wait until the seventh over before the first run was scored off the bat, and Umar's two leg-side boundaries in the 15th over were the first of the innings.

His resistance ended when he chipped a catch to midwicket off Styris, having scored 21 from 54 balls (42 for 6). A few overs later, Styris struck again, picking up the wicket of Malik, who missed an inswinger (51 for 7).

When New Zealand got bogged down against Akhtar and Latif, both of whom opted for an aggressive approach, Fleming turned to Daniel Vettori. He did the trick, as Latif flipped a catch to midwicket and Akhtar played onto to his stumps, allowing Oram to wrap up the innings. And that was pretty much that, Akhtar's pace and venom notwithstanding.

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Charlie Austin Sri Lanka editor When Charlie Austin left for Sri Lanka after graduating from Sussex University, he was a planning a winter's cricket in the tropics and a six-month stint with an environmental NGO. His mother's worst fears were soon realised when it became clear that he had fallen in love with the island. Six months have now become eight years and Colombo has become his home. He joined Cricinfo in February 2000 and now heads operations in Sri Lanka, responsible for both sales and editorial. He is also the director of a UK-based travel company called Red Dot Tours, and is currently ghosting Muttiah Muralitharan's autobiography.
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