In a World Cup warm-up match on Friday, Rachin Ravindra and the returning Kane Williamson delivered crucial performances, leading New Zealand to a five-wicket victory as they successfully chased down 345 runs to defeat Pakistan
In pursuit of 346 runs for victory, New Zealand faced an early setback. However, a strong partnership of 137 runs between Ravindra (97) and Williamson (54) steered their team on the right path. They successfully reached the target with 6.2 overs to spare in Hyderabad.
On the other hand, Pakistan, choosing to bat first, saw Mohammed Rizwan scoring 103 runs and Babar Azam contributing 80 to reach a total of 345-5. Despite the absence of pace spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi, the Kiwi batsmen made the challenging target appear quite manageable.
Williamson, returning from a six-month hiatus due to a knee injury and playing solely as a batsman, showcased his prowess with a 50-ball innings before retiring out.
Regarding his knee, Williamson expressed, “It held up pretty well.” He mentioned icing the knee post-innings, part of his recovery routine, and his excitement at being named in the squad despite missing the tournament opener against England on October 5.
Ravindra displayed impressive form, striking 16 fours and a six, narrowly missing a century due to being dismissed by Agha Salman. Pakistan’s Usama Mir took two wickets in two overs, but Daryl Mitchell’s 59 runs kept the chase on track.
Left-handed batsmen Mark Chapman (unbeaten 65) and James Neesham (33) combined for a partnership of 68, guiding New Zealand to the target in 43.4 overs.
In the earlier innings, Azam hit eight fours and two sixes before falling to Mitchell Santner, while Rizwan completed his century with support from Saud Shakeel, who made 75.
The match, categorized as a warm-up and not an official one-day game, was played in an empty stadium due to a Hindu festival and security concerns in Hyderabad.
Pakistan’s 15-member squad for the upcoming tournament was announced last week by Chief Selector Inzamamul Haq. Notable inclusions are bowler Hasan Ali, while star pacer Naseem Shah, injured during the Asia Cup, was omitted. Bowlers Faheem Ashraf and Mohammad Hasnain were also left out.