Revived Brendon McCullum makes himself count
Brendon McCullum recently lost the vice-captaincy against calls for him to move down the order, but after a match-winning century - his second in 162 ODIs - he was a relieved man. Coming into the second ODI against Pakistan McCullum had averaged 25.85 from 22 matches in 2009, with only two half-centuries, but managed to convert a start into three figures.
His 131, which included 14 fours and three sixes, was McCullum's first century against serious opposition and paved the way for New Zealand to level the three-match series at 1-1. "I have to perform as a senior player," he said. "I have had starts but failed to carry on for a big score. I am glad I could do it tonight. It was really nice to score a century and win the game for New Zealand."
McCullum's captain was understandably pleased with the team's fightback. "We talked about some key things from the last game that we needed to improve on and we came out today and did them exceptionally well," said Daniel Vettori.
Pakistan were put under further pressure in pursuit of a target of 304 because New Zealand's excellent in-fielding prevented the singles that were so easily available when Pakistan were bowling. Ross Taylor has yet to score a run in two games but made an impact in the field; he plucked a stunner at short midwicket to dismiss Younis Khan and then leaped up to take a catch off the first ball the dangerous Shahid Afridi faced.
Martin Guptill, whose 62 in century stand with McCullum had given the New Zealand innings impetus, took three catches and was swift in the field, returning a good throw from the deep to help run out the top scorer Salman Butt.
"Fielding was our forte and it came good with a few fantastic catches and the run out of Salman Butt," Vettori said. "It can make such a difference to the way the bowlers feel and it can turn games around. In particular Ross Taylor's catches and Martin Guptill's run-outs made such a huge difference and means you only have to take seven or eight wickets when you have fielders like that.
"The three wickets from Scott [Styris] helped to change the game in our favour. We will try to put the pressure on Pakistan in the decider on Monday."
The final ODI will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 9.