Afridi stars as Pakistan rout New Zealand
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi
Scorecard:Pakistan v New Zealand
Player:Shahid Afridi, Kamran Akmal, AJ Redmond, DL Vettori, SE Bond, Khalid Latif
Event:New Zealand in United Arab Emirates 2009/10

DateLine: 3rd November 2009


Shahid Afridi and Kamran Akmal helped Pakistan rout an inept New Zealand team thus recording their second largest win over the Kiwis.


Pakistan electing to bat first found themselves to be in deep trouble at 0 for 2. But first Afridi in the company of Latif and then Akmal-Razzaq combo took Pakistan to a competitive total of 287. New Zealand in reply lost their top order cheaply before Redmond and Vettori mounted a fightback. But the Pakistani bowlers proved too much for the Kiwi batsmen as they were finally dismissed for 149.


On a pitch that offered runs to any batsman willing to play sensibly Younis Khan had no hesitation in electing to bat first, but what was to follow was something the skipper would not have fathomed. Shane Bond took just four balls to square up a tentative Salman Butt giving McCullum an easy catch behind the stumps. Younis Khan, who was evidently struggling with his one day form, chased a full and wide ball from Bond which was gleefully accepted by McCullum and Pakistani team found themselves 0 for 2 in 2.1 overs. Khalid Latif, playing his second ODI, dropped the anchor trying to limit the damage while Yousuf tried to get the innings moving. With Bond going full throttle he was well supported by Southee who did his bit by tightening the screws.


Yousuf tried to break free by hitting Southee over mid-on and then whipping Butler through midwicket to inject some momentum into the innings and slowly the score began to move. As the innings progressed Yousuf slowly shifted the gears and Oram was the sufferer as Yousuf twice found the boundaries in one over. But with Yousuf in the crease there is always a danger of a run-out opportunity and unsurprisingly he was beaten by a direct hit from Guptill to undo all the hard work. Umar Akmal looked quite good in the middle but a beauty from Vettori cleaned him up. Afridi joined Latif in the middle and the two batsmen had their task cut out.


Afridi as a batsman had matured a lot in the past 3-4 months and with the innings that he played today it is evident that he has settled comfortably into a role of senior statesman in the team. The Pakistani vice-captain calmed the nerves of the youngster and took up the mantle to push the scoring. Vettori was deposited over long-on and Nathan McCullum was hoisted once over midwicket and once over long-off to signal Afridi’s intentions. It was a perfect blend of caution and aggression from Afridi as he took well-placed singles and doubles, occasionally launching a boundary. As the Pakistani innings progressed Afridi became more belligerent and soon the Kiwi bowlers began to bleed.


Latif meanwhile got to his maiden ODI fifty unnoticed while Afridi got to his fifty with a booming cover-drive of Bond. Bond who looked sharp in his first spell began to look a pale shadow of his former self as he dropped in his pace and began to lose his line. Afridi opened up and the Pakistani run-rate began to climb. Finally Afridi trying to be cheeky paddle-swept a wide ball from Oram which he could only lob to fine leg where Butler took an easy catch. The pair added 101 runs in 14.5 overs and the relief on the faces of the Kiwi team was palpable. Vettori cleaned up Latif and it seemed that all the hard work of Afridi would be undone. But Akmal and Razzaq had other ideas as they walloped the Kiwi bowlers to all parts of the ground. The pair added 86 runs in 7.2 overs to punish a weary New Zealand bowling attack with Akmal making a hurricane 67 of 43 balls which included four sixes and five boundaries.


New Zealand in reply did not get off to a good start as Gul and Aamer troubled both the openers, McCullum and Redmond, with pace and movement. McCullum tried to break free as he collected three boundaries in an over from Gul but his stay did not last long as he dragged a short one from Gul onto his stumps. Guptill did not last long when a tentative forward defensive shot from the batsman resulted only in dragging the ball back onto his stumps. Aamer who was impressive beat the bat several times before Taylor chased a wide one from the bowler only to edge it behind for Akmal to take an easy catch. Razzaq then joined the party when Styris pulled a short one straight into the hands of Farhat as the New Zealand innings simply fell apart.


Vettori joined Redmond in the middle and the two mounted a slow recovery. Redmond looked completely at unease against the spin twins Ajmal and Afridi while Vettori used his feet to neutralise whatever spin the spinners were able to get. Redmond could not get the ball off the square and it was left to Vettori to rotate the strike. Vettori collected a couple of boundaries and also got the scoreboard moving with some quick singles and that encouraged Redmond to try and get the singles. The pair added 69 in 14.2 overs raising visions of a late fightback but Ajmal played the kill-joy. Redmond never looked comfortable when the spinners were on especially against Ajmal. He was repeatedly beaten by the doosra and the straighter ones. Several times he got rapped on the pads but the umpire would negate the vociferous appeal that followed. Finally Ajmal got one to straighten and struck Redmond right in front of the stumps to reduce New Zealand to 119 for 5 in 29.3 overs.


Vettori followed soon back into the pavilion when he dragged a googly from Afridi back onto his stumps and Nathan McCullum was trapped plumb leg before of the first ball he faced. Oram looked as if he did not belong to the big stage and his stay was cut short when Razzaq disturbed the wood-work. Butler was undone by a direct hit from Gul and Ajmal wrapped up the innings when he trapped Southee leg before with a one that went straight on.