5 Takeaways from the second Pakistan vs. New Zealand ODI

The visitors bounced back with an emphatic performance, comprehensively defeating Pakistan on a challenging pitch.

Mohammad Nawaz’s Importance

Perhaps the most important takeaway of the night from the home side’s perspective is that Mohammad Nawaz is an indispensable member of Pakistan’s 50-over squad, who, in the second ODI, turned the game on its head by single-handedly dismantling New Zealand’s middle-order to return figures of 4/38 from his quota of 10 overs – his first wicket coming when the visitors were sitting pretty on a score of 196 runs for the loss of two wickets, with more than 17 overs remaining in the innings. The fact that the Kiwis were reduced to a score of 261 in 49.5 overs is a testament to the impact Nawaz’s blockbuster spell had on the game, as he spun a web around the opposition, causing them to capitulate in an emphatic fashion. His dismissal of Kane Williamson, where he hit the top of the off stump to send the well-set New Zealand skipper packing, will be etched in the memory of all those who witnessed it for quite some time. The left-arm spinner from Rawalpindi is more than handy with the bat in hand as well, in addition to being a gun fielder. His all-round brilliance will be imperative towards Pakistan’s success in the ODI World Cup later in the year on the spin-friendly tracks of India.

Devon Conway, the Performer

Whilst it comes as no surprise to see Kane Williamson amongst the runs for New Zealand, who once again scored an important knock of 85 runs for his team, it is rather astonishing to see another batter outshine him across formats consistently ever since he made his debut. That batter is South Africa-born Devon Conway, who has taken international cricket by storm over the course of two years, out-performing his experienced teammate since his first game in two out of three formats.

Comparison Since Conway’s Debut in Each Format

 

Conway

Williamson

T20Is

35

27

Runs

1170

799

Avg

48.8

34.7

SR

130.6

118.7

Tests

12

7

Runs

1150

530

Avg

54.8

48.2

ODIs

14

9

Runs

526

328

Avg

43.8

54.7

SR

80.9

69.1

While he was lagging behind his captain in ODI cricket, the left-handed run machine’s innings of 101 runs was crucial towards helping the Black Caps set what was eventually a match-winning total on the night, in a scorecard where only three New Zealand batters crossed double digits, therefore deservedly bagging the Player of the Match award. After having been dismissed without troubling the scorers in his two previous innings in Pakistan, scoring his second hundred of the tour in a must-win game has not only elevated Conway’s ODI numbers significantly but has also made it clear that his form in the New Zealand black can be a deciding factor in the Kiwi’s World Cup campaign, come October.

Naseem Shah’s All-Phase Value

In the piece preceding this one, Naseem Shah ruled the roost with respect to the takeaways after the first ODI of the series, courtesy of a scintillating 5-wicket haul. It would be criminal not to include the 19-year-old once again, who kicked off the game by paying homage to his injured new-ball partner Shaheen Shah Afridi for the second consecutive time, striking in the first over of the game to remove the dangerous Finn Allen for a score of 1. In fact, if we take a look at his short ODI career, Naseem has managed to take a wicket in his first over in four out of five instances – the tearaway quick from Lower Dir adding three more wickets to his tally, taking it to 18 scalps in 5 ODIs, which is the most by any bowler after that many matches. More importantly, however, it is Naseem’s all-phase brilliance that makes him stand out the most, having gone on to take his second and third wickets of the match in the middle and death overs, respectively. The fashion in which he dismissed Devon Conway, uprooting the centurion’s off stump when New Zealand were powering through at 183 runs with just one wicket down, that too in less than 30 overs, was a sight that every fast bowler dreams of, having provided a much-needed breakthrough at just the right time, initiating Pakistan’s comeback. To call the teenager a hot commodity in world cricket, regardless of the format, would be an understatement of enormous proportions.

Spin in Karachi

Given the amount of turn that has been on offer on the Karachi surface over the course of two ODIs, it might well be worth playing an extra spinner over a third seamer in Pakistan’s coastal metropolis – a strategy that Kane Williamson opted for, and prevailed with, to level the series 1-1 via a commanding 79-run victory in game number two. New Zealand’s spinners sent down 30 out of 43 completed overs in the second innings, accounting for five wickets at the expense of just 114 runs. Even if we look at the Pakistan camp, in 48 overs across two games, the spinners were able to sneak in eight wickets for 206 runs at an economy rate of roughly 4.3 runs per over. Even though Pakistan is well endowed in the pace bowling department, perhaps Chief Selector Shahid Afridi missed a trick by not including another front-line spinner in the squad, especially since barring Naseem Shah, Pakistan’s other two pacers in Haris Rauf and Mohammad Wasim Jr only have one wicket each next to their names across two completed fixtures.

Top-Order Reliance

As was highlighted after Pakistan’s one-sided win in the first ODI, the men in green possess one of the most sought-after top orders in the 50-over format, who have delivered the goods with impeccable frequency over the last half-decade. On the flip side, however, when Pakistan’s top three do not perform, as was the case today, with Fakhar, Imam, and Babar racking up only 85 runs between them – the former two falling for scores of 0 and 6 respectively to leave the home side wobbling at 9 for two – Pakistan fall short of victory more often than not. There is fact-based evidence behind this phenomenon, as in the 16 ODIs where the aforementioned trio has combined for less than 100 runs, Pakistan has been triumphant on just six occasions. With the 50-over World Cup roughly nine months away, Babar Azam's unit will have to find methods to counter situations where they lose early wickets in a bid to further improve as an ODI side and potentially transform into a champion one.