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Player of the Match
Player of the Match

Pakistan Dominates at Wellington

After suffering the doom at Napier, Pakistan needed to pull up its socks, which it did in the 3rd One-day international at Wellington. After a disappointing performance in the previous encounter, it was now the batsmen's turn to compensate for their failure to provide Pakistan a lead in the five match series. Considering that New Zealand had lately turned into a site of low scoring matches, Pakistan's score of 243 was a challenging one or possibly a winning total, provided the bowlers bowled economically and the fielders were not lazy and lethargic.

The high score helped Pakistan in winning the match though their performance was not without blemish. The fielding was as pathetic as ever. Some vital catches were dropped while easy stumping chances missed. Giving away abnormally high number of `extras' made the team look ordinary. Despite all the follies, it was, however, wonderful to defeat the Black Caps. The victory opens up the avenues of a series victory for Pakistan by clinching one of the two remaining ODIs

Pakistan took an adventurous start scoring at the rate of around 6 runs an over. After replacing Imran Farhat as opener Imran Nazir gave Pakistan a good start by scoring 32 useful runs. After his departure another solid partnership ensued between Saeed Anwar (57) and Saleem Elahi (30) that enabled Pakistan to cross 100 of the innings.

After Saleem Elahi fell victim to Chris Harris on his own ball, the wickets almost fell at regular intervals. Not allowing liberties to the batsmen, Harris (2 for 31) appeared to be the most difficult bowler to face. The impressive run rate of 6 gradually came down to around 4 and remained so for long. It was the plunder of 51 runs in the last 5 overs that enabled Pakistan to hoist the respectable total of 243.

As usual Saeed Anwar was the highest scorer with a brilliant 57 while Yousuf Youhana (47) missed his well-deserved half-century by only 3 runs. Imran Nazir (32) and Saleem Elahi (30) were the other major contributors to the total.

Considering 244 not an easy target for victory, the Black Caps were naturally not as confident as in the previous match. Pakistan's famous two Ws Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis thus got a tremendous start. By launching a fiery attack Wasim got the early break-though by sending skipper Stephen Fleming back to the pavilion with only 12 runs on the board. Waqar followed suit by causing the second blow to the Black Caps when Roger Twose snicked an incoming delivery into the safe hands of Moin Khan. Nathan Astle was the next to go bringing New Zealand to a miserable 19 for 3.

The situation, however, took a miraculous turn when Craig McMillan and Lou Vincent stuck to the crease like a rock, punishing all bowlers well and proper. While Waqar was hit for 3 fours in one over, they treated Azhar Mahmood and Abdur Razzaq with real contempt.

Poor fielding by Pakistan contributed its share to their long partnership. Vincent who scored some brisk and breezy runs took at least two chances. He was dropped by Imran Nazir when the total was 63 and for the 2nd time by Yousuf Youhana at the boundary line when New Zealand was 102 for 3. The partnership between the two that yielded 99 invaluable runs was eventually broken, when Vincent was smartly stumped by Moin Khan, rewarding Saqlain Mushtaq with his 1st wicket of the match. His quick fire 34 put the Black Caps on the path of free scoring, while placing them at a safe 118 for 3.

The tempo of scoring continued for some time after the arrival of Chris Harris but the situation changed all of a sudden when the two Black Caps, McMillan (64) and Chris Harris (11) were back to the pavilion one after the other. The loss of McMillan who raised the New Zealand innings to a respectable score of 152 for 5 was the grave one for his side. While Harris left at the same total, Daniel Vettori's ouster brought the Black Caps down to 161 for 7 and then to 187 for 8. Azhar Mahmood and Saqlain Mushtaq were in command while Pakistan was back in the game.

The Black Caps needed 12 runs an over to win the match. They had their bright moments when Daryl Tuffey survived a stumping chance and Adam Parore stole 12 runs including a towering 6 off an over from Wasim Akram. The sixers having become a rare commodity, the small crowd at the stadium danced and chanted with delight.

With the fall of the 9th wicket at the score of 207 it was a matter of touch and go. The pair of tail-enders, Franklin and Martin unable to sustain the pressure constantly mounting from the opposing pair of Wasim and Saqlain succumbed without much of a resistance. The Black Caps were all out for 215 runs offering Pakistan a victory by 28 runs. Pakistan leads the 5 match series by 2-1.