In his first match in six months, Kane Williamson showcased his exceptional skills while Rachin Ravindra shone at the top of the order as New Zealand successfully chased a challenging target of 346 runs against Pakistan in their first warm-up match for the 2023 World Cup. The New Zealand team achieved a five-wicket victory in the contest. With the exception of the opening pair, Pakistan’s batsmen, including Mohammad Rizwan (retired injured after scoring 103 in 91 balls), Babar Azam (80 runs in 84 balls) and Saud Shaukeel (75 runs in 53 balls), showed their form in the middle overs, allowing his team to post a formidable total of 345 for five in the allotted 50 overs.
New Zealand, however, managed to reach the target in just 43.4 overs, thanks to the impressive performances of Rachin Ravindra (who scored 97 runs in 72 balls), Kane Williamson (with 54 runs in 50 balls), Daryl Mitchell (who retired injured after making 59 runs from 57 balls), and Mark Chapman (remaining unbeaten with 65 runs from 41 balls).
Former Pakistan captain Ramiz Raja, who worked closely with the team during his stint as PCB chairman until last year, was not particularly pleased with the team’s approach to the game. Ramiz asserted that Pakistan need to bat according to the nature of Indian pitches, insisting that they will have to score more than “400”.
“I know it was just a practice game, but a win is a win. And winning becomes a habit. But I feel Pakistan is getting into the habit of losing. First they lost in the Asian Cup and now here. Pakistan scored 345 and it was a great chase. If these are the pitches (and in India you will find similar pitches), you will have to score 400 if your bowling keeps failing like this. You will have to change tactics, take risks. And we don’t do that. We played defensively for the first 10 to 15 overs and then shifted gears,” Ramiz said.
It is worth noting that star fast bowler Shaheen Afridi did not feature in the match, giving Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali a chance to showcase their skills with the new ball.
Haris Rauf, who bowled just one four-over spell, ran out wicketless and conceded 36 runs. Hasan Ali, returning to the Pakistan team after a nine-month absence, made a promising start to his first spell but struggled to contain the runs as New Zealand’s innings progressed.