Inzamam's volcanic 85 leads to towering victory
Unexpectedly, the match was more like a feast for Pakistan because they never expected the Black Caps to be bundled out for a meager 127. Except for Chris Nevin who scored a lovely 50, none of the other batsmen were able to face Pakistan's onslaught. Abdur Razzaq was the one who made the vital break through, marking the end of 3 top order batsmen.
His mantle was taken over by Saqlain and Sami. There were signs of apparent nervousness amongst batsmen especially when they faced Saqlain and this turned the offie into a terror, routing the Black Caps batting line up. Sami gave him admirable support from the other end.
Although Pakistan lost 2 early wickets, the giant of an Inzamam took control and almost massacred the Black Caps' bowling to be remembered by watchers for a long time. He hit all over the ground with full authority. With a masterly innings of 85 Inzamam led Pakistan to a fabulous victory by 7 wickets, achieved in only 25 overs. This may go down as one of Pakistan's greatest triumphs in one-day cricket.
Unbeaten in this tourney so far, Pakistan lost the toss and New Zealand batted first in this 2nd encounter on the usual batting friendly track at Sharjah.
Opening with Mathew Sinclair and Chris Nevin, the Black Caps started well and aggressively making 36 runs in the first 5 overs. Waqar and Sami bowled too short and paid for this strategy. The first bowling change brought the reward when Abdur Razzaq clean bowled Sinclair for 9, with New Zealand's total at 38.
Razzaq struck again bowling Matthew Bell with a straight delivery. The loss of 2 wickets for 44 runs did not deter the Black Caps from pursuing their aggressive designs and continued hitting all over the field. As a result, Nevin batting with immense confidence also lost his wicket to Razzaq after scoring an exciting 50. He was caught while trying to hit to leg. The Black Caps were 79 for 3 but continuing to maintain an impressive run rate of 6 plus.
The first 15 overs yielded 89 runs but not without further damage. Craig McMillan was run out immediately and New Zealand lost their 4th wicket. After this the batsmen felt jittery in facing Pakistan's onslaught. The introduction of off spinner Saqlain Mushtaq compelled them to apply brakes on the run-rate with the result that the last 7 overs brought only 15 runs.
The 5th wicket of Lou Vincent fell at 105 and Sami having got his rhythm back, made short work of Chris Harris and Jacob Oram in quick succession reducing New Zealand to 114 for 7. The procession continued with debutant Kyle Mills returning with the total at 117 and Grant Bradburn following on his heels. Saqlain who was flighting the ball well today played havoc and brought New Zealand down to 120 for 9.
With last pair, Walker and Tuffey, not feeling comfortable against the off-spinner it was just a matter of time. Saqlain bowled Tuffey to end the Black Caps' shaky innings at a total of 127 scored in 31.3 overs. By clinching 4 marvelous wickets Saqlain was the chief wrecker followed by Razzaq with 3 and Sami with 2 wickets.
Set an easy target of 128, Pakistan looked rather over-complacent to start with, losing the first 2 wickets for only 17 runs on the board. Saeed Anwar's run out was like throwing away the wicket while Imran Nazir was also caught on a careless shot.
However, the next pair of Inzamam and Younis Khan, took control of the situation and got down to building up the innings. Adopting his adventurous style Inzamam delighted the crowd by hitting a flurry of 4 fours off Walker and a six off Oram, raising Pakistan's score to 67 in 13 overs. He plundered 28 runs off Walker in 2 overs. At the dinner break, Inzamam was on 39 and in full command.
The Black Caps met with their 3rd success immediately after the break when Younis Khan was out without any addition. Inzamam, however, continued to rampage. He smashed off-spinner Bradburn for a mighty six followed by a four to hoist his 50 in 41 balls.
Young Faisal Iqbal joined Inzamam and both playing sensible cricket kept leading Pakistan to the target by adding quick runs. With a streak of shots by both batsmen, Pakistan reached the target in 25 overs, ending on 131 for 3. Inzamam, with a fantastic 85 and Faisal (17) remained unbeaten. Pakistan defeated the Black Caps by 7 wickets. For his 4-wicket haul, Saqlain Mushtaq was declared Man of the Match.