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29 November 2023

New Zealand struggle in ‘batting heaven’

By Reuters

On a wicket described as a batting heaven, New Zealand struggled to 262-7 batting first in the fourth one-day international against Pakistan in Napier on Tuesday.

A top order collapse nullified the experiment of removing the big-hitting Brendon McCullum from his customary opening slot and dropping him to number seven.
James Franklin, a late addition to the New Zealand team when Jesse Ryder pulled out with a finger injury, top scored with 62 while the only other score of note was an unbeaten 53 by Nathan McCullum.
On a placid pitch at McLean Park, Wahab Riaz finished with three for 47 from his 10 overs while Abdul Razzaq strangled the scoring with seven overs which resulted in a miserly one for 16 and included three maidens.
When New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori won the toss he had no hesitation in batting first on a wicket which Pakistan captain Shahid Afridi described as “heaven for a batsman”.
Openers Martin Guptill and Jamie How justified the call with an aggressive start in which they raced to 40 without loss in the seventh over before the innings fell apart in the face of a lethal spell from Riaz and Razzaq.
In two overs New Zealand lost three wickets for four runs, and in a 14-over spell they lost five for 39 before McCullum joined Franklin in the middle and they breathed life back into the innings as they cracked 62 in 12 overs.
But the task of lifting the pace eventually proved too much for McCullum who reached 33 off 39 balls before being caught behind by Kamran Akmal off the bowling of Riaz.
Franklin made 62 in 75 balls before he was dismissed, attempting to hit Afridi over the square leg boundary but instead sending the ball straight to the safe hands of Riaz.
Nathan McCullum ensured there was life at the end of the innings with seven fours and a six in his 53 while Vettori was unbeaten on 13.