James Neesham and Colin de Grandhomme brought up a 100-plus partnership, ensuring New Zealand stays in the game in their World Cup clash against Pakistan on Wednesday at Edgbaston.
Neesham scored 70 off 96 balls while de Grandhomme scored 54 off 67 balls after New Zealand’s top order was destroyed by Pakistan’s bowlers.
By the end of the 43rd over, New Zealand were 184 for 5.
They made it to 100 runs after 32 overs, losing five wickets along the way as they faced the onslaught of Pakistani bowlers.
New Zealand were jolted by Pakistani bowling attack after Shadab Khan bagged the crucial wicket of New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson (41) in the 27th over.
The wicket came just as Williamson and teammate Neesham were moving towards a partnership after New Zealand’s top order crumbled before Pakistani bowlers. The Black Caps were five wickets down at the score of just 84 by the end of the 27th over.
De Grandhomme, who walked out to bat after Williamson, barely survived a run out appeal in the 30th over after a direct hit at the non-striker’s end by Shadab.
They had been struggling since the beginning of the innings as fast bowlers Shaheen Afridi and Mohammad Amir took down New Zealand’s top order.
Afridi struck New Zealand thrice, dismissing three of New Zealand’s top order including Tom Latham, Ross Taylor and Colin Munro. The Guardian described Afridi’s spell as the “spell of his teenage life”. Until this point, Afridi had picked up three wickets for 11 runs in seven overs.
Latham was dismissed in the 13th over by Afridi, and was replaced by Neesham as Pakistani fans celebrated Kiwis’ plight.
Earlier, Afridi had dismissed Ross Taylor after Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed dove to his right to take an impressive one-handed catch in the ninth over. New Zealand were 38 for 3 when Latham joined his captain Kane Williamson on the crease.
It was Afridi’s third wicket of the match, who dismissed New Zealand opener Colin Munro in the seventh over. The over was all the more precious as it was also a maiden.
Haris Sohail successfully held on to the ball at first slip after Munro tried to drive a slightly wide delivery by Afridi.
New Zealand were 24 for the loss of two wickets in seven overs.
Pakistan got off to a good start after Amir bowled out New Zealand opener Martin Guptill in the second over. It was the fast-bowler’s first ball of the match. The first over was bowled by all-rounder Mohammad Hafeez.
Kiwis were 22 for the loss of one wicket by the end of the fifth over. New Zealand skipper Williamson joined opener Colin Munro after Guptill got out.
Toss and pre-match chatter
New Zealand had won the toss and chose to bat first against Pakistan in the high-stakes Cricket World Cup game at Edgbaston, Birmingham.
Speaking after the toss, Ahmed said that he would have chosen to bat first as well, had he won the toss.
He admitted that “catching was still a concern but we work hard [to improve] it”.
“Hopefully we’ll do well as a fielding unit today,” he said.
When asked if Pakistan — who bounced back on Sunday after a demoralising defeat from India and kicked South Africa out of the tournament — could make it to the World Cup semifinals, Ahmed said: “Pakistan can do anything.”
New Zealand captain Williamson was quoted by ESPN Cricinfo as saying: “You turn up and know you’ll have a tough game, as Pakistan are a very tough side. For us, it’s trying to build on those performances and keep improving.”
New Zealand have the chance to follow Australia into the semifinals of the Cricket World Cup if they beat Pakistan in today’s match.
Pakistan are hoping for a repeat of 1992 when they beat New Zealand in the semi-final and went on to win the title. They can move one point behind fourth-place England with a win, and go level with Bangladesh, as the race for the finals spots unexpectedly opens up.
The match was delayed by an hour because of a wet outfield. Following pitch inspection at Edgbaston at 2.30pm — when the game was scheduled to start — it was announced that the toss would take place at 3pm and the match at 3.30pm with no overs lost.
The delay did not deter Pakistan’s fans, who arrived at the stadium with a flourish.
NZ leading in points
New Zealand has 11 points from six games and is chasing its eighth semifinal appearance at the tournament and the chance to regain top spot in the 10-team standings from Australia. Defending champion Australia secured a place in the semifinals with a comfortable win over top-ranked England on Tuesday.
Seventh-place Pakistan has five points, After appearing to be down and out after losing three of its first five matches, Pakistan has been given a potential lifeline by England. Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are Pakistan’s closest rivals also in the hunt for a semifinal spot.
Pakistan, the 1992 champion, leads 2015 finalist New Zealand 6-2 in World Cup games.
The weather forecast is for cloudy conditions and light drizzle before improving, with temperatures up to 19 degrees Celsius.
- Kane Williamson (c)
- Tom Blundell
- Trent Boult
- Colin de Grandhomme
- Lockie Ferguson
- Martin Guptill
- Matt Henry
- Tom Latham
- Colin Munro
- James Neesham
- Henry Nicholls
- Mitchell Santner
- Ish Sodhi
- Tim Southee
- Ross Taylor
- Sarfaraz Ahmed (c)
- Asif Ali
- Babar Azam
- Fakhar Zaman
- Haris Sohail
- Hasan Ali
- Imad Wasim
- Mohammad Amir
- Mohammad Hafeez
- Mohammad Hasnain
- Shadab Khan
- Shaheen Afridi
- Shoaib Malik
- Wahab Riaz