WellingtonThe crafty and solid 82 from Henry Nicholls and lower order cameos helped New Zealand to thrash Pakistan by 70 runs in the first One-Day International to secure a 1-0 lead in the series at Wellington on Monday.
Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and opted to bowl first under overcast conditions. New Zealand were jolted early in the innings when Martin Guptill (11) attempted a pull and top-edged a delivery down the throat of fine leg off Mohammad Irfan (2-43).
Tom Latham (11) was caught behind trying to pull a delivery from Mohammad Amir (3-28). The onfield call was not out but after a review showed evidence of an edge, the decision was overturned.
Nicholls (82) was dropped by Mohammad Hafeez as New Zealand reached 45 for two in the first powerplay.
Anwar Ali (3-66) struck a crucial double blow in the 16th over as he castled both Kane Williamson (10) and Grant Elliott (0) to leave New Zealand struggling at 70 for four.
A few overs later, Amir accounted for Corey Anderson (10) and Luke Ronchi (5) in successive overs by getting them caught behind.
However, Amir was struck on the foot in the next over and left the field to get some treatment. Nicholls batted patiently and completed his maiden ODI fifty in 71 balls.
Along with Mitchell Santner (48), Nicholls added 79 runs for the seventh wicket, ensuring a period of stability in the innings.
Irfan provided the breakthrough for Pakistan in the 39th over when he got Santner to edge a delivery to the keeper.
As Nicholls kept one end locked up, Matt Henry (48 not out) played a superb cameo, laced with four sixes and as many boundaries. Nicholls was bowled by Anwar in the 45th over.
Amir returned to bowl in the 47th over but left the field once again after one delivery while Anwar completed the over.
Henry and Mitchell McClenaghan (31 retired hurt) struck lusty blows towards the end as they added 73 runs together pushing New Zealand past the 250-run mark.
McClenaghan retired hurt in the final over after being struck on the face by a bouncer from Anwar. New Zealand ended up scoring 71 runs in the last five overs as they posted 280 for eight in 50 overs.
Amir and Anwar shared six wickets equally while Irfan had two to his name. McClenaghan required stitches on his face and did not take the field in the second innings.
After a steady start, Pakistan lost Azhar Ali (19) in the ninth over as he picked out mid-on looking to take on Elliott (3-43).
An over later, Elliott got Ahmed Shehzad (13) to drive at a wide delivery and had him caught Williamson (1-11) in the slips.
An 81-run stand between Hafeez (42) and Babar Azam (62) rescued Pakistans innings in what was proving to be a tricky chase.
Azam took a few risks by hitting the boundaries while Hafeez rotated the strike effectively. At the half-way mark, Pakistan needed 170 runs with eight wickets in hand.
Williamson broke the partnership by inducing Hafeez to hole out to long on. Azam went on to complete his 60-ball fifty.
Sohaib Maqsood (10) was caught at fine leg trying to pull Elliott. With the required rate climbing Pakistan slipped further when Azam and Imad Wasim (1) departed in successive overs.
Between overs 37 and 41, New Zealand conceded just 16 runs, pushing the required rate into double digits.
A 13-run 43rd over gave hope for Pakistan but Boult (4-40) rapidly dismissed the lower order by striking four times in two overs. Sarfraz Ahmed (30) and Anwar (16) were caught at mid-wicket while Amir (0) and Irfan (0) were bowled.
Pakistan were bundled out for 210 runs handing New Zealand a 70-run victory. Nicholls was the man of the match for his efforts.
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