Vettori savours great start to series
Daniel Vettori credited his bowlers for the crushing nine-wicket victory over Pakistan in the first one-dayer in Wellington. Led by Tim Southee in supreme form, the New Zealand seamers skittled Pakistan for 124 in 37.3 overs, before some ballistics from the New Zealand top-order ensured a fast finish, as they chased the total down in 17.2 overs.
"It was a really good start to the series," Vettori said. "The swing at the start, particularly from Tim, was the real key. We put the Pakistani guys under a lot of pressure and we never really let up, so it was a great start for us."
Southee stunned the Pakistan top-order with a brilliant display of swing bowling, as he beat the bat repeatedly with outswingers before mixing in the one that darts back in towards the stumps. Southee collected career-best figures of 5 for 33, bettering his four-wicket haul against Australia at the same ground in March last year. New Zealand's other bowlers also pitched in, bowling tight lines and keeping Pakistan on the back foot, even if they didn't generate the kind of movement that Southee did.
"We were able to create pressure and hold onto that pressure for a long time," said Vettori. "No bowler who came into the attack ever let it up. Particularly from that top end, I could keep attacking with Tim and Hamish [Bennett] and we just kept getting wickets so it made it easy.
The Westpac Stadium pitch too played a small part, despite appearing a good batting track on first look. Both captains said they would have batted first on the drop-in- surface, but Vettori would have been glad he lost the toss, particularly as the pitch seemed to have flattened out during New Zealand's run chase. "Most of the bowlers enjoyed bowling on this wicket," he said. "To be honest we thought it was going to be a bit flatter than that but it just had enough in it. Sometimes the wickets that just have a little bit in it are the hardest to play on."
Vettori was also impressed with the performance of Hamish Bennett in his third one-dayer. Bennett's hit-the-deck pace and bounce proved a valuable contrast for Southee's big seamers, as Bennett picked up 3 for 26 from eight overs.
"I think [Bennett] was a little bit nervous at the start. I think he only played the two games [in Bangladesh], so he was playing in front of a New Zealand crowd for the first time, and that's why we held him back to bowl first-change. Once he got through that first over I thought he was outstanding. He hit really good areas and bowled at a good pace so he'd be a good foil for the opening bowlers."
Brendon McCullum moved down the order for the first one-dayer, relinquishing his opener's spot to Martin Guptill, who will look to partner Jesse Ryder in the World Cup as McCullum aims to provide impact in the batting Powerplay later on in the innings. Martin and Ryder made 84 for the first wicket in 10 overs, all but sealing the victory for the hosts. "Jesse and Martin are good friends and they like batting together so I think that will help their combination. They enjoyed playing on that sort of wicket. It's a different one because we won't be playing on that sort of wicket in the World Cup, but this series is about getting back that winning feeling and hopefully we started it today."
Waqar Younis claimed New Zealand's bowlers had made it tough for the Pakistan batsman to recover from early losses with a sustained spell of tight bowling. "It was not easy at all, " Waqar said. "The only way you could get out [of a bad situation] is to slowly build a partnership and make sure that the other batsmen come in when the new ball has gone through. Full credit to all their bowlers, they didn't really give us any room to hit or release the pressure."
Waqar also defended his batsmen, who were out playing expansive strokes when the situation called for patience and application. Younis Khan, Shahid Afridi and Umar Akmal were all guilty of getting themselves out while attempting to break the shackles, and the loss of their wickets put pressure on Misbah-ul-Haq who tried to hold down an end, before exploding towards the end, with nine wickets down.
"It happens when you're three down in the first ten overs," Waqar said. "It's never easy and the run-rate dying all the time. The bowlers didn't give us anything and that's where played some false shots and we couldn't really get out of it."