Black Caps beaten in World Cup opener

Jimmy Neesham and Todd Astle celebrate a wicket during the Black Caps’ warm-up win over the Netherlands in Dubai. Picture; STUFF SPORTS.

Pakistan underlined their credentials as early Twenty20 World Cup favourites when they held their nerve to beat New Zealand by five wickets in Sharjah and secure a second straight victory in the tournament.

Chasing a modest 135 for victory after pace bowler Haris Rauf choked out New Zealand with four wickets, Pakistan were in trouble at 69-4 but crossed the line in 18.4 overs for a fine start in their bid for a second championship.

Mohammad Rizwan top-scored with 33 while Shoaib Malik (26 not out) and Asif Ali (27 not out) guided them home.

The Group II contest was played against the backdrop of bad blood between the sides after New Zealand abruptly abandoned a limited-overs tour of Pakistan last month citing a security alert.

England followed suit in a double blow.

But Pakistan, on a high after beating arch-rivals India in their Super 12 stage opener, channelled any lingering anger as they restricted New Zealand to 134-8 as Rauf picked up 4-22 before their batsmen sealed a thrilling victory.

Skipper Babar Azam kept faith with the eleven that hammered India and his decision to bowl after winning the toss paid off as they restricted New Zealand to 42-1 in the powerplay.

New Zealand struggled to release the handbrake as Pakistan continued to apply pressure and Rauf took two wickets in three balls in the 18th over to ensure there were no late fireworks.

Opener Daryl Mitchell (27), skipper Kane Williamson (25) and Devon Conway (27) all got good starts for New Zealand but were unable to build on them.

“We were quite optimistic at the half way point, we were possibly a boundary or two away from being above par” said Williamson.

“In a low scoring affairs they’re a game of small margins and unfortunately we couldn’t quite nail things towards the back end, but at the same time there was so much good in that game from our side.”

New Zealand went into the game with their experienced bowling attack of Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Ish Sodi and Mitchell Santner.

The Black Caps second game is against India on Monday morning.

Meanwhile the West Indies’ title defence ran into trouble after they succumbed to their second successive defeat against South Africa who revived their own campaign with an eight-wicket victory.

The Group I contest pitted two teams who badly needed victory to rekindle their semi-final hopes after being beaten in their respective Super 12 stage openers.

South Africa suffered a jolt even before a single ball was bowled as wicket keeper-batsman Quinton de Kock defied a team order to take a knee and sat out the match over what skipper Temba Bavuma called “personal reasons”.

They still managed to restrict West Indies to 143-8 and rode Aiden Markram’s blistering half-century to chase down the target with 10 balls to spare.

 

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