A clean sweep by the home team

A Pakistan win was on the cards once four key New Zealand players pulled out owing to security fears and three others — Shane Bond, Nathan Astle and captain Stephen Fleming — were ruled out because of injuries for the five-match one-day international series.

RIZWAN EHSAN ALI

A Pakistan win was on the cards once four key New Zealand players pulled out owing to security fears and three others — Shane Bond, Nathan Astle and captain Stephen Fleming — were ruled out because of injuries for the five-match one-day international series.

The Pakistani cricket team poses with the trophy after beating New Zealand in the final One-Day International in Rawalpindi. Pakistan won the series 5-0. — Pic. AFP-

Unlike Pakistan where a cricketer from nowhere comes straight into international arena and makes his mark (sometimes only for short time), New Zealand could find just one in 26-year-old middle-order batsman Hamish Marshall from the series, which it lost 0-5.

Led by Chris Cairns, the bunch of inexperienced Black Caps remained under the hammer of young Pakistan openers Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat throughout the five games.

Cairns was expecting the seven newcomers in the side to make their mark in international cricket against an opposition which was unpredictable, but had all the potential to smash any international team on a given day.

Yasir Hameed, who was in great form, made a career-best unbeaten 127 in the fifth match. He was also associated in four successive century opening partnerships with Imran Farhat. — Pic. AP-

In his first international series as Kiwi captain, Cairns had little ammunition to combat against the likes of Yasir, Imran and Abdul Razzaq.

And to everyone's surprise, the experienced Chris Harris, Jacob Oram, Daniel Vettori and Daryl Tuffey were not once in the series included in the same playing XI to help Cairns stop the barrage of runs.

Imran, who gave seamer Michael Mason a wicket off his third ball in international cricket, roared back in style along with Yasir in the remaining four one-day internationals.

Imran Farhat acknowledges the cheers after completing his maiden century in limited overs cricket. Imran Farhat and Yasir Hameed who scored hundreds each in the last encounter were named the men of the match. — Pic. AFP-

The left-handed Imran and an elegant Yasir got better and better as the series progressed and saved their best for the last game.

Both recorded centuries in the last match and established a unique world record of four successive over-100 opening partnerships — a feat never achieved even by the top opening pair of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.

Yasir hammered 356 from five games while Imran was not far with 348 as no New Zealand bowler could pose a threat on batsman's paradise at Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi.

"I was expecting to go back home with at least one win, but Yasir and Imran outplayed us with big scores," conceded Cairns after losing the last game under lights by 49 runs at the Pindi Cricket Stadium. Such was the dominance of the Pakistan openers that captain Inzamam-ul-Haq and Yousuf Youhana were not even required to show their batting exploits in the last two games.

Shoaib Akhtar bagged three wickets for 23 runs to help Pakistan win the penultimate game. — Pic. AFP-

"Frankly, it was our openers' series. They dominated so much that the Kiwis were under pressure in all the five games," Inzamam said.

First ODI: New Zealand had its best match in the opening game but Abdul Razzaq's batting in the end saw Pakistan chase its second best ever total and record a narrow three-wicket victory.

Cairns lived up to his promise that he couldn't wait to go out in the park and score briskly. After electing to bat first, openers Craig Cumming and Richard Jones gave a reasonable start of 49 in less than 10 overs. Half century-makers Mathew Sinclair and Marshall were then involved in a third wicket stand of 101, to set the stage for Cairns in the last 15 overs.

Both Sinclair and Marshall made identical 55s off 76 balls each before Cairns smashed the Pakistan bowlers all over the Gaddafi Stadi<147,2,1>um in the last 10 overs. With Oram (35 off 31) Cairns added 90 off 60 balls. Razzaq and leg-spinner Danish Kaneria conceded 22 runs each in the 48th and last over which boosted New Zealand's total to 291 for five off 50 overs. Cairns recorded his first score of over 50 in 11 one-day internationals and hit half a dozen sixes and five fours in his quickfire unbeaten 84 off 51 balls.

A combo picture of Mohammad Sami delivering a ball. Sami's career-best haul of five for 10 earned him the man of the match award in the second ODI. — Pic. AFP-

Yasir made a composed 52 off 73 balls, while Youhana (42), Inzamam (49) and Moin Khan (43) made useful contributions in the run chase.

However, Razzaq followed coach Javed Miandad's instructions and didn't spare any lose delivery. He took just 22 balls to make 47 with three fours and two sixes while Mohammad Sami also hit two sixes in his brief but valuable innings of 17 off eight deliveries.

With little resources at Cairns' disposal, seamer Michael Mason conceded 18 runs in the 47th over and Cairns himself was whacked for 16 in the next as Pakistan romped home with two overs to spare. Had Tuffey or Harris played in the match, Cairns could have got better bowling options in the death over, but surprisingly both key players were rested from the game which cost New Zealand dearly in the end.

Second ODI: Paceman Mohammad Sami's five wickets in 11 deliveries shot Kiwis out for a meagre 157 in Pakistan's convincing 124-run victory. Only opener Richard Jones (63) showed some resistance against Pakistan's strong total of 281 for six as Sami ran through the Kiwi middle-order and long tail in quick time.

The ever-improving Sami clean bowled Oram, Brendon McCullum, Tama Canning and Paul Hitchcock off perfect yorkers while Vettori offered a tame catch to Imran with the last five wickets going for just two runs. Sami ended with a career-best five for 10. Cairns and Jones added 69 runs off 79 balls for the fourth wicket before the Kiwi captain was run out in the 28th over and when Jones was bowled by Shoaib Malik in the 36th over, Sami cleaned up the tail in style.

Hamish Marshall in a punishing mood during the course of his unbeaten century in the third ODI. — Pic.AFP.-

Earlier, a 115-run first wicket stand between Farhat (68) and Yasir Hameed (53) in 24 overs received a setback when left-arm spinner Vettori claimed three wickets in his unchanged spell of 10 overs which included the scalps of both the openers.

However, Saleem Elahi, recalled after the World Cup, scored 70 and later Razzaq once again blasted 42 off 16 deliveries to help Pakistan propel to 281 for six off 50 overs. Shoaib Malik and Elahi contributed 50 off 39 balls before Razzaq hit four boundaries and two sixes in his unbeaten knock as Pakistan scored 103 in the last 10 overs to set Kiwis a stiff target.

Third ODI: In the only day game of the series, New Zealand failed to capitalise on helpful bowl<147,3,7>ing conditions and even Marshall's unbeaten century couldn't stop Pakistan from recording a 51-run win and take an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the series. Under a dense layer of fog, Yasir (63) and Imran (91) combined in a 142 run partnership and denied New Zealand success until the 31st over.

Watchful Yasir and Imran set an ideal platform for the rest of the batsmen with Youhana scoring 64 off 53 balls.

Man of the match of the first game, Abdul Razzaq, was consistent throughout the series. — Pic. AP-

Inzamam-ul-Haq became the seventh player to play 300 one-day internationals before Cairns cut short his celebrations by getting him out for 25.

Although Matthew Walker claimed three wickets in the last over of the innings to finish with four for 49, Razzaq's 34 off 16 balls and Shoaib Malik's 15 off seven balls once again gave Pakistan a strong total of 314 for seven off 50 overs.

Shoaib Akhtar, who was banned for the first two games for abusing Paul Adams in the first Test against South Africa in October this year, removed Cumming while Jones was brilliantly caught <147,4,0>by a diving Yasir off Razzaq for 23 with the Kiwis scoring just 92 for three by the half-way mark.

A 107-run stand between Marshall and Harris stabilised the innings, but the asking rate kept going up. Sami returned for his second spell and got three wickets which included the prize wicket of the dangerous Cairns (9) as New Zealand required 141 runs in the last 10 overs.

Chris Cairns' quickfire 84 was the feature of the New Zealand innings in the opening match. — Pic. REUTERS-

The only bright spot in the run-chase was the maiden century by Marshall, who completed the three-figures in the last over and remained unbeaten on 101 off 109 balls with seven fours and two mighty sixes as the Kiwis finished their quota at 263 for seven.

Fourth ODI: Shoaib Akhtar's three for 23 helped Pakistan to yet another big win. Cairns top scored with 48 off 61 balls as rest of the top order batsmen struggled to get partnerships going with Harris scoring a snail-paced 24 off 45 balls. Shoaib once again gave an early breakthrough, this time trapping Cumming lbw off his fifth delivery and then had the wickets of Canning (13) and Tuffey (10).

Imran (82) and Yasir (61) scored at will in the run-chase against an all-seam attack and spurred the partnership to 134 before Canning took two wickets and Imran was run out as Pakistan chased the target with more than eight overs to spare.

Imran was more ruthless in his half century and scored 14 boundaries in his 117-ball knock while Yasir hit seven fours in his 81-ball innings.

"It was a good old fashion hiding," Cairns summed up the Kiwis' disappointment. "It's disappointing to keep losing but I think the boys were tired because we had to play five games in nine days," Cairns said.

Fifth ODI: Imran and Yasir's record-breaking 194-run partnership set up Pakistan's fifth win in a row — this time by a 49-run margin. Kiwis settled to play out the 50 overs instead of challenging Pakistan's total of 277 for four, with Marshall scoring his second best score of the series and remaining unbeaten on 62.

Poor running between the wickets also let down the Kiwis with Jones (49), Sinclair (36) and Oram (1) all failing to beat pin-point throws of Pakistan fielders. Canning (23 not out) and Marshall reduced the margin of defeat with an unfinished 49-run seventh wicket stand as the Black Caps ended up at 228 for six off their 50 overs.

Yasir's career best unbeaten 127 off 154 balls and Imran's maiden one-day international century — 107 off 112 balls — kept New Zealand at bay until the 40th over.

Their 197-run partnership bettered the previous opening wicket record against the Black Caps by three runs. Saeed Anwar and Wa<147,5,1>jahatullah Wasti held the previous record when they made 194 in the 1999 World Cup semi-final at Manchester.

Imran timed the ball with perfection, frequently finding the gaps and hit 12 boundaries and a six before holing out in the deep to Oram. Although Pakistan lost three more wickets, it still managed to score 78 runs in the last 10 overs with Hameed remaining unbeaten on 127 with nine fours and a six. Canning was the most successful bowler but had to concede 59 runs off his 10 overs for the wickets of Razzaq (2) and Imran.

"Pakistan always got off to a good start with Yasir and Imran being the stars of the series and conversely we did not get good starts," conceded Cairns at the prize distribution ceremony.

"It would have been nice to come away with at least one win but that was not to be. But constantly we said on tour that it's all about learning," he added. However, Cairns hoped that New Zealand in full strength will be better prepared to take on Pakistan at home, when it would be the real test for the in-form Pakistani openers. "Let's see how they come out under conditions which will suit seam bowlers," Cairns said.

The scores: First one-day international:

New Zealand 291 for five in 50 overs (Cumming 25, Sinclair 55, Marshall 55, Cairns 84 not out, Oram 35) lost to Pakistan 292 for seven in 48 overs (Yasir Hameed 52, Yousuf Youhana 42, Inzamam-ul-Haq 49, Moin Khan 43, Abdul Razzaq 47 not out). MOM: Abdul Razzaq

Second one-day international:

Pakistan 281 for six in 50 overs (Yasir Hameed 53, Imran Farhat 68, Saleem Elahi 70, Abdul Razzaq 42 not out, Vettori three for 44) beat New Zealand 157 in 38.5 overs (Jones 63, Cairns 29, Md. Sami five for 10). MOM: Md. Sami

Third one-day international:

Pakistan 314 for seven in 50 overs (Yasir Hameed 63, Imran Farhat 91, Yousuf Youhana 64, Inzamam-ul-Haq 25, Abdul Razzaq 34, Walker four for 49) beat New Zealand 263 for seven in 50 overs (Sinclair 32, Marshall 101 not out, Harris 46, Md. Sami three for 22). MOM: Imran Farhat

Fourth one-day international:

New Zealand 183 in 47.5 overs (Harris 25, Cairns 48, Shoaib Akhtar three for 23) lost to Pakistan 184 for three in 41.2 overs (Yasir Hameed 61, Imran Farhat 82). MOM: Imran Farhat

Fifth one-day international:

Pakistan 277 for four in 50 overs (Yasir Hameed 127 not out, Imran Farhat 107) beat New Zealand 228 for six in 50 overs (Jones 49, Sinclair 36, Marshall 62 not out). MOM: Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat.