Henry Nicholls’ first ODI fifty and some lower-order bludgeoning propelled New Zealand to a 70-run victory over Pakistan in the first of three ODIs, in Wellington.
Nicholls (82 from 111 balls) shared a 79-run stand with Mitchell Santner (48) for the seventh wicket before Matt Henry (48 not out from 30) and Mitchell McClenagan (31 from 18) biffed 77 for the ninth in 5.4 overs as the Kiwis recovered from 99 from 6 to post 280-8.
Trent Boult (4-40) and Grant Elliott (3-43) then seized seven wickets between them as Pakistan were dismissed for 210 – Babar Azam (62) top scoring for the away side – ahead of games in Napier on Thursday and Auckland next Sunday.
Mohammad Amir, playing in his first ODI for Pakistan since his return from a five-year spot-fixing ban, recorded figures of 3-28 prior to limping off at the start of his ninth over with an injured leg, Tom Latham (11), Corey Anderson (10) and Luke Ronchi (five) the left-armer’s victims.
New Zealand regrouped at that point, with Nicholls, making just his sixth ODI appearance as a replacement for the injured Ross Taylor, stroking seven fours in his knock before dragging Anwar Ali (3-66) onto his stumps.
Henry and McClenaghan then ran riot towards the back-end of the innings, nailing seven fours and six sixes between them and only seeing their partnership end one ball from the finish when McClenaghan was stuck on the face by an Ali bouncer and had to retire hurt with a fractured eye socket
McClenaghan, who will undergo minor surgery in Auckland on Friday, was subsequently unable to bowl for the hosts, with Elliott, dismissed for a two-ball duck while batting, impressing in the quick’s absence.
The veteran medium-pacer removed Pakistan captain Azhar Ali (19) and fellow opener Ahmed Shehzad (13) to leave the tourists on 37-2 and returned to snare the wicket of Sohaib Maqsood (10) as the visitors lost batsmen at regular intervals.
Babar and Mohammed Hafeez’s (42) stand of 81 for the third wicket was the only substantial partnership, with the Asian outfit shipping their last eight wickets for 92 runs and their final four for five runs, Boult completing New Zealand’s win by castling Amir and Mohammad Irfan, both for ducks, in the 46th over.