For the second time this series, rain intervened before the match was finished with New Zealand in front. This time, it subsided early enough for further play to be possible, and forÂ Martin GuptillÂ to storm back to form. An explosive innings from the opener – who scored 86 off 71 balls – ensured New Zealand carried a 2-0 lead into into the third ODI at Dunedin with an eight-wicket win.
After a two-hour delay, New Zealand’s target was revised from 247 to 151 in 25 overs, with a further 87 required in 11 overs after the resumption. Guptill made it look supremely straightforward, smashing Hasan Ali for consecutive sixes in his first over back. The sixes were hit at will for Guptill – five of them in total – while Ross Taylor provided suitable support. Pakistan fell apart spectacularly in the field, and New Zealand completed the chase with seven balls to spare.
Before the interruption, New Zealand spent much of the game enjoying the upper hand, and barring the salvo of a 49-ball 70 run partnership between Hasan Ali and Shadab Khan, Pakistan couldn’t quite lay claim on any passage of play.
Sarfraz Ahmed might have made a different decision at the toss, but that didn’t change how the innings panned out. Pakistan, batting first, turned in another limp batting performance. All five regular bowlers chipped in with wickets, and it was left to Pakistan’s lower order to respond with a magnificent rearguard action as half-centuries from Hasan and Shadab took Pakistan – once tottering at 141 for 7 – to a more presentable 246.
The surface in Nelson looked dry, and even Kane Williamson admitted he would have much preferred to bat first, but his opening bowlers didn’t leave him wistful for too long. Tim Southee and Trent Boult were at the openers straightaway, Azhar Ali and Imam-ul-Haq – in for the injured Fakhar Zaman – struggling against generous early swing. At the same time, Boult was dangerous with the short ball, with Azhar survived a caught behind after a review showed it was in fact his helmet that had grazed the ball on the way through to the keeper.
Boult wasn’t to be denied in his next over, though. It was the short ball that brought the breakthrough, as Imam was unable to get on top of the bounce, and the pull shot went straight to Colin Munro at square leg.
Azhar followed him in the next over. Tim Southee got the wicket in almost identical fashion to the first ODI, Azhar falling over to off stump and missing a straight one that thudded into his pads.
Babar Azam played a loose shot unbecoming of the reputation and class to leave Pakistan wobbling at 39 for 3, and it was up to old hands Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Hafeez to regroup. A 45-run partnership provided some hope of a Pakistan revival, as the pair began to rotate the strike regularly and use their feet to the spinners. But just as the momentum was shifting, Malik danced down the wicket and hit one straight to long-on.
Sarfraz and Hafeez were Pakistan’s last recognised batsmen, but both fell to indifferent shots. Sarfraz’s was shocking, coming down the wicket to a short ball from Todd Astle and getting himself stumped. A few overs later, Hafeez, after compiling 60 classy runs, charged Mitchell Santner in similarly unseemly fashion, only succeeding in chipping to short cover.
The innings looked to be petering out well under 200, and it took a whirlwind partnership between Shadab and No. 9 Hasan to restore some competitiveness to the contest. Hasan took charge in their stand, striking four boundaries and four sixes, beginning his assault with successive sixes off Mitchell Santner. Ferguson struck him with a vicious bouncer around the neck, but he wasn’t dissuaded, taking the attack to the quicks as well as New Zealand lost their discipline. Astle went for 21 runs in an over, while Boult bowled two full tosses around waist height – only one of which was called – as the runs began to flow freely.
Southee was smashed for 12 in three balls to bring up a 30-ball fifty, but the bowler dismissed Hasan off the next ball. Shadab continued to attack, as Pakistan took 13 off Southee’s final over. Boult wasn’t spared either as a gorgeous cover drive off the left-armer brought up Shadab’s half-century.
New Zealand started their chase shakily, Mohammad Amir – looking near his fearsome best – forcing a false shot from Munro to send him back for a duck. Williamson and Guptill restored some order, before a superb diving catch at point from Shadab left New Zealand at 47 for 2.
Pakistan may have felt they were right back in the game, before the rain break. By the time the rain subsided, Guptill appeared to be a different batsman, one against whom a lackadaisical Pakistan stood no chance.