Kane Williamson, the New Zealand skipper, has called on his bowlers to be more accurate in the final overs as they look to take an unbeatable lead over Pakistan in the third One-Day International in Dunedin on Saturday (January 12).
New Zealand are 2-0 in the five-match series, after a 61-run win in Wellington and an eight-wicket win in Nelson, both by the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern method.
But, Williamson was not completely happy, especially with the bowling to lower-order batsmen.
Pakistan rocketed from 141 for 7 in the 37th over to make 246 for 9 in the second game, with Shadab Khan and Hasan Ali both making half-centuries. The hosts, who were set a revised target of 151 in 25 overs, got there thanks to strong hands by Martin Guptill and Ross Taylor, but the captain was concerned that it repeated a pattern that has been all too common in recent seasons, where New Zealand have let the score get away on them after a solid start.
“We learnt a few lessons from the last game,” said Williamson on Friday. “They bat very deep, the Pakistani side, and that is a sign of a good team. To see their lower order come out and put together a partnership that gave them a total which could have been a tough chase … it’s important that we learn from that.”
Rain is forecast for the third game in Dunedin as well. If it holds off long enough for a result, a win would not only give New Zealand the series, but they would also equal their longest streak across all formats of ten wins.
The hosts have Colin de Grandhomme, the allrounder, back in their squad after he returned from Zimbabwe on bereavement leave, but Williamson said they would wait to view the pitch on Saturday before settling on their playing XI.
New Zealand: Martin Guptill, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson (capt), Ross Taylor, Tom Latham (wk), Henry Nicholls, Mitchell Santner, Tim Southee, Todd Astle, Lockie Ferguson, Trent Boult, George Worker, Matt Henry.
Pakistan: Azhar Ali, Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed (capt/wk), Shadab Khan, Faheem Ashraf, Mohammad Amir, Hasan Ali, Rumman Raees, Imam-ul-Haq, Haris Sohail, Mohammad Nawaz, Aamer Yamin.
For Pakistan, Fakhar Zaman, who scored an unbeaten 82 in the opening game, is expected to return to the side after missing the second game because of a thigh injury.
His return should add spark to a line-up that has struggled to adapt to the conditions. “The guys have struggled with the bounce as they have been playing quite a bit in Pakistan and coming here was a bit of a shock to the system,” said Grant Flower, the batting coach. They had been training with a slab and would require quick feet to counter the bowling, he added.
However, with Dunedin usually offering a surface that was comparatively slow and low, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men are hoping to regain the touch that saw them on a nine-match winning streak, starting from their Champions Trophy 2017 campaign, which was halted only in Wellington.
The visitors know there is work to do with their bowling as well. Mohammad Amir did well to pull things back from himself, conceding only 18 runs from five overs in the second game after an expensive outing in Wellington, but the other bowlers continued to leak runs.