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First-person reports from the stands
Imran Nazir with his brilliant match-winning half-century. He cleared the ropes four times in his innings, twice as many times as the entire New Zealand team put together. The cleanest of the four was used to greet Ian Butler in the fourth over. Six overs later Nazir brought up his fifty in style with yet another six over long-on. It was Nazir's first half-century for Pakistan in all forms of cricket in over two years, and the crowd reaction made it clear it was worth the wait.
Bright young thing
Could it be anyone other than Mohammad Aamer? It's hard to believe that this 17-year-old made his international debut less than six months ago. An absolute dynamo with the ball in hand, he troubled the New Zealand batsmen with both his pace and movement. He may celebrate his wickets with the Shoaib Akhtar airplane move but it is Wasim Akram that people are already comparing him to.
Shot of the day
It was provided by Abdul Razzaq in the 19th over, with Pakistan needing some mighty blows to come close to the 160-run mark they had looked certain to pass when Nazir departed. Butler was hit straight back over his head and into the upper deck of the stands. It was without a doubt the biggest six in the short history of the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium. Thirteen years after he made his debut for Pakistan, Razzaq proved he is still one of the cleanest and most dangerous hitters in the game.
A fifth New Zealand bowling option. With Butler being carted to all parts, New Zealand had to turn to the part-time spin of Nathan McCullum and Aaron Redmond. Pakistan capitalised on this, and their total of 161 was always going to be too much for New Zealand's depleted batting line-up to chase down.
Despite the presence of perennial fan favourite Shahid Afridi, Dubai's largest cheers were reserved for Aamer. The crowd was clearly enamoured with him after his batting heroics in the third ODI and chants of "Aamer, Aamer" broke out when he took strike with two balls remaining in the Pakistan innings. Although there were no fireworks off his bat, the crowd didn't have to wait much longer for some Aamer magic. When he took the wicket of Brendon McCullum in his second over, the crowd absolutely erupted. If this match is anything to go by, Afridi may soon have a challenger in the popularity contest.
One young man stood out. In addition to the Pakistan flag in glittery face paint, he was sporting a UAE flag afro-wig. Can't say I've ever seen one of those before. An honourable mention must go to Shoaib Malik and his pads. With the fluorescent pink lining and straps, he looked like a walking neon billboard.
The New Zealand innings was entering its 14th over, and their run-chase had faltered
A father to his young son: Are they playing a Test match?
Son looks at him quizzically
Father: They're not even putting up a fight.
Son: So in Test matches they don't put up a fight or what?
Marks out of 10
From the neutral observer's viewpoint, I'd give the match a 6. Although there were some fireworks in Pakistan's innings, New Zealand's run-chase petered out by the end of the seventh over, when they were 4 down for 40-odd. Ask pretty much anyone in attendance, however, and they'd give you an 8. A resounding Pakistan victory left the majority Pakistani crowd (myself included) extremely satisfied.
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