Rachin Ravindra turned out to be the game-changer, and his knock eclipsed Mohammad Rizwan’s century as New Zealand started its World Cup journey by registering a comprehensive five-wicket win against Pakistan in the first warm-up match at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium here on Friday.
Rizwan scored a brilliant century (103, 94b, 9x4, 2x6), while Babar Azam (80, 84b, 8x4, 2x6) and Saud Shakeel (75, 53b, 5x4, 4x6) hit fluent half-centuries as Pakistan reached a score of 345/5 in 50 overs.
New Zealand, in reply, overhauled the target in 43.4 overs, riding on Ravindra’s blazing 97 off 72 balls in a captivating innings where the opener smashed 16 boundaries and a six. An unbeaten 65 from Mark Chapman shut Pakistan out.
Hasan Ali started the evening show by dismissing Devon Conway for a duck in his very first ball but Kane Williamson and Ravindra oozed class on a night where the Pakistani bowlers struggled.
New Zealand’s preparations on track
New Zealand looks like a team that can go the distance ahead of the main event, with four of its batters scoring half-centuries. Ravindra earned a World Cup call and might prove to be the trump card as the batting all-rounder impressed with his strokeplay.
Although Pakistan had a centurion and two half-centuries, how the Black Caps set the chase was impressive.
What sets apart New Zealand is the fact that the batsmen had a clear plan and went after the bowling with the asking rate right from the start.
In the PowerPlay, New Zealand was a better side, scoring almost double the runs that Pakistan scored.
Although it is early days, the pitch will likely aid batters in the tournament, which will make it challenging for bowlers to pick wickets.
Williamson, Ravindra set the tone
Williamson and Ravindra first forged a fifty-run stand in 37 balls, with Pakistan ringing in changes by employing the spin of Agha Salman and bringing Hasan back into the attack.
The move didn’t work. Although Williamson won’t be playing the first game against England, the New Zealand skipper batted with intent and sprinted comfortably between the wickets en route to a 50-ball 54 before he retired out.
The flicks, the pulls and the cuts were on full display, with Ravindra being the aggressor smashing a half-century in 41 balls and forging a 137-run partnership for the second wicket with Williamson. The batters rode on the bounce and cashed in on any width offered by the Pakistan pacers with some crafty punches through the sweeper cover region.
The Pakistani attack, which generally strikes early, struggled with Haris Rauf, Hasan Ali and Mohammad Wasim Jr. proving expensive.
Although the deck was a batting paradise, Pakistan erred in the line and length in comparison with their New Zealand counterparts. However, it’s the New Zealand batting that set the tone and gave indications that it has the arsenal to succeed in Indian conditions.
Daryl Mitchell then joined the run-fest and played spin extremely well and used his feet to launch spinner Mohammad Nawaz. Mark Chapman too, proved his batting credentials by scoring runs quickly and finding the boundaries at ease. Overall, New Zealand outclassed Pakistan in all departments, but its bowlers will look to chip in soon.
Babar, Rizwan shine
Earlier, Rizwan warmed up by scoring a brilliant century and helped Pakistan post a challenging total. The wicketkeeper-batsman batted with freedom and authority to reach the milestone with a sumptuous pull through the mid-wicket. The 93-ball century knock was laced with nine boundaries and two sixes, while Babar scored an enterprising 80 in 84 balls and hit eight boundaries and two sixes.
By the time the rain arrived to interrupt the game in the 18th over, both Babar and Rizwan were well-set in the middle driving their team past the 80-run mark and forging a fifty-run stand in 55 balls.
Babar began with a couple of exquisite cover drives, opening the full face of the bat and bisecting the inner field with precision. Rizwan on the other hand, slog-swept Rachin Ravindra for the first six of the match and deposited the spinner over the wide long-on region. The resumption saw both batters continue their assault as they changed gears bringing the 100-run partnership and notching individual half-centuries.
Rizwan brought out the deft touches against Glenn Phillips, guiding the ball late to the fence. Babar dispatched Santner over the deep mid-wicket for a maximum but fell while trying to repeat the shot as he mistimed it to get caught at mid-on.
The wicket, however, couldn’t apply brakes on the scoring as Riwan blazed away to his century, and Saud Shakeel hit a quickfire half-century in 42 balls to boost the Pakistan total.
- ENG vs NED Dream11 Prediction, World Cup 2023: England vs Netherlands predicted XI, squads, fantasy tips
- Al Duhail vs Al Nassr Highlights: Talisca hat-trick secures 3-2 win without Cristiano Ronaldo in AFC Champions League
- No Cristiano Ronaldo, no problem: Talisca hat-trick secure wins for Al Nassr in AFC Champions League
- Barcelona stunned by Shakhtar in Champions League as Sikan nets winner
- Fullkrug, Brandt steer Dortmund to back-to-back wins over Newcastle in Champions League