Pakistan 184 for 3 (Farhat 82, Hameed 61) beat New Zealand 183 (Cairns 48, Akhtar 3-23) by 7 wickets with 8.4 overs to spare
Yasir Hameed: made a fluent half-century to ease Pakistan to victory
© Wisden Cricinfo
Pakistan thumped New Zealand by seven wickets in a comprehensive all-round exhibition to take a 4-0 lead in the five-match series. New Zealand opted to bat, but made heavy weather of a flat pitch, struggling to 183 as Pakistan's bowlers made run-scoring a torrid affair. Shoaib Akhtar took 3 for 23, as top-order batsmen and tailenders were equally uncomfortable against his controlled aggression.
Imran Farhat (82) and Yasir Hameed (61) then hammered 134 for the first wicket - a partnership characterised by merciless batting that emphasised the difference between the teams - as Pakistan coasted past the target with more than eight overs to spare.
Chris Cairns top-scored for a team that has been bruised, battered, and for the most part of this series, has resembled a tattered rag-doll. His innings of 48 stood out among others that promised much but were terminated by incisive bowling. A defiant six over midwicket to signal the end of Abdul Razzaq's miserly spell confirmed his combative intentions, as did a string of boundaries in the middle of the New Zealand innings. But it was not to last, as he ran out of both partners and time, and fell to a false shot, to be bowled by Shoaib Malik (143 for 7).
Earlier, Akhtar took all of five balls to deliver the first blow, ending Craig Cumming's stay with an incutter that thudded into his pads (0 for 1). Mathew Sinclair then joined Richard Jones, and the pair scored runs on the rare occasions the bowlers erred. The budding partnership ended when Sinclair (7) played down the wrong line to a Razzaq inswinger and was adjudged lbw (23 for 2).
New Zealand's predisposition for self-destruction, much in evidence on this tour, then came to the fore again. Jones played a ball to square leg and took off for a non-existant second run, but Akhtar's powerful throw to the wicketkeeper had him diving back in vain (31 for 3). With the top three dismissed, the bowlers had a stranglehold and did not gift Hamish Marshall and Chris Harris any favours. An Azhar Mahmood yorker splayed the stumps to end Marshall's endeavors (49 for 4).
Trying to buck the tightening screws, Harris and Cairns applied pressure on the fielders with well-placed singles and slowly built a partnership. At this point Inzamam-ul-Haq turned to Malik, a masterstroke that wrenched New Zealand's final experienced pair apart. Harris stepped out and hit a ball high, but not long enough, and Saleem Elahi made a difficult catch look simple at long-off (82 for 5).
Brendon McCullum's brief stay at the middle was aborted by a throw that found him short of the crease, attempting a third run off a misfield (100 for 6). When Cairns was dismissed shortly after, Akhtar returned to bully the tail, picking up two wickets before an Umar Gul delivery disturbed Paul Hitchcock's stumps and ended an innings of considerable woe.
The New Zealand attack discovered the schizophrenic nature of the pitch, as it now held none of the imagined dangers of the first innings, when wickets tumbled and runs were in short supply. Daryl Tuffey's first four overs went for 30 runs, while Michael Mason's three cost 20. Hameed and Farhat simply drove through the line when the ball was pitched up, singeing the turf with thundering boundaries, and stepped back to cut anything short, often tantalisingly past slip, to the fence.
By the halfway mark both openers had thrashed fifties, and just as Pakistan were headed for a ten-wicket victory, Hameed chipped a Tama Canning delivery to long-on, where Tuffey took a regulation catch (134 for 1). Moments later, they combined to dismiss Mahmood, as Tuffey dived full-length to grasp a catch inches from the grass at cover (153 for 2).
Canning dismissed Farhat as well, this time with a direct throw from fine leg, as the batsman scampered for a second run (162 for 3). That was the last of the setbacks, as Saleem Elahi and Malik achieved the victory with a spell of boundaries to leave New Zealand with the unpleasant prospect of a 0-5 whitewash.