Pakistan were bundled out for a platy 183 in 41.4 overs while chasing a competitive 303 to register their fourth straight win against New Zealand in a Group `A` ICC world cup match at Kandy in Sri Lanka.
The way the Pakistan played their crucial match against New Zealand today raised many eye brows.
Even before the dust could settle over Pakistan players involvement in match-fixing, this crucial fixture given fresh scope to suspect some of their players performance. Wicket-keeper Akmal’s poor catching as well the Rawalpindi Express Shoab Akhtar disastrous third spell led to the opponents piling up a huge total of 203.. The Pakistan fielding was of poor quality and so was bowling.
New Zealand opening bowlers Tim Southee and Kyle Mills, in fact, ran through the top order, reducing Pakistan to 23 for 4 in the eighth over and then to 45 for 5 in 15 overs. New Zealand lost the services of left-arm spinner and captain Daniel Vettori in the sixth over of the Pakistan innings, when the latter was 23 for1, but the Kiwis kept the lid tight, under stand-in captain Ross Taylor. Despite a couple of fours and a six by captain Shahid Afridi (17 off 9 balls) before being bowled by Jacob Oram, Pakistan never recovered completely from the early wickets.
Umar Akmal made 38 off 58 balls and added 36 for the 7th wicket before becoming the first wicket to fall to spin, caught by Oram in the deep off Nathan McCullum. Abdur Rehman followed quickly, LBW to the same bowler. This brought Umar Gul to join Abdul Razzaq and the two put together the best partnership of the innings, adding 66 off 51 balls for the ninth wicket. Razzaq fell for 62 off 74 balls with 9 fours, caught by Oram in the deep off Scott Styris. The end came a run later as Shoaib Akhtar fell for a two-ball duck, caught by Nathan McCullum off Styris, leaving Umar Gul stranded on a plucky 33 off 25 balls.
Earlier, Pakistan, which just managed to give away only 36 runs in the batting powerplay which New Zealand took at the end of 41st over as Gul struck twice by removing Scott Styris and Nathan McCullum.
However, Akhtar`s third spell dented Pakistan`s chances of restricting New Zealand as Taylor and Jacob Oram cut loose in a whirlwind 85-run seventh wicket stand off just 22 balls.
It was for the first time in 13 years that Pakistan had opened with a spinner in a one-day international since left-arm spinner Mohammad Hussain did it against South Africa at Centurion in 1998.
Taylor, who completed his half century off 78 balls, needed half that number of balls to complete his fourth one-day international century.
He smacked Akhtar for three sixes, with one going out of the ground at midwicket, and two fours. On the other hand, Jamie How struggled for 29 balls before Umar Gul had him trapped lbw and Guptill fell to Afridi`s full delivery soon after completing his half century.
Ross Taylor set off his own 27th birthday fireworks earlier, blitzing an unbeaten 131 to power New Zealand to 302-7 against a hapless Pakistan bowling attack.
Taylor smashed seven towering sixes and eight fours as wicketkeeper Kamran Akmal’s weaknesses were once again shown up as he completely ignored a simple chance before Taylor scored and then fumbled a simple chance. After starting slowly, Taylor sped up to hit his 131 from 124 balls.
New Zealand batsmen struggled to score freely after captain Daniel Vettori won the toss and opted to bat first at Pallekele International Cricket Stadium near Kandy which became the 178th venue to host one-day internationals. Shoaib Akhtar knocked back Brendon McCullum`s off stump with a superb fourth delivery that swung back into the right hander.
Martin Guptill made a fighting 57 but struggled after captain Shahid Afridi deployed leftarm spinner Abdur Rehman with the new ball. The New Zealand batsmen took 30 runs off Abdul Razzaq`s 49th over.
With this defeat Pakistan pushed to second position.