Pakistan face mounting task of levelling series

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AUCKLAND: Under pressure after experiencing a flurry of heavy defeats on the tour, Pakistan will attempt to square the ODI series when they take on Kane Williamson’s men in the third and final match here at Eden Park on Sunday.

The Black Caps took a 1-0 lead in the series in the opening match at the Basin Reserve in Wellington. The second contest at McLean Park in Napier ended up being abandoned as no action was possible owing to heavy rain.

Azhar Ali’s brigade, under pressure to perform against the 2015 World Cup finalists, would need all their competence and experience in order to find answers to many questions posed by a well-drilled host side, and in the process conclude the tour on a winning note.

The Kiwis have maintained very good form at home in the past couple of months and they have brought that into this series against Pakistan.

After prevailing in the T20 Internationals following loss in the series opener (also staged in Auckland), Williamson & Co had made a bright start to the ODI series with a comprehensive win in the first match before the second game on Thursday was abandoned.

Although New Zealand won the first ODI, their batting performance on the day was less than convincing. Pace battery comprising Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Irfan and Anwar Ali rattled them with most of the top order and the middle order removed before they could make an impression.

Regardless of the failings of his peers however, Henry Nicholls made a defining 82 off 111 deliveries to help the Kiwis to a decent position in the game. There was some important contributions from Mitchell Santner and Matt Henry and some great hitting from Mitchell McClenaghan that bailed them out in the end.

During the chase, Pakistan looked like they were in control. However, when Mohammad Hafeez and Babar Azam — two well-set batsmen — were dismissed in quick succession, Pakistan completely lost the plot and ended up being bowled out for 210 runs, 70 short of the mark.