Pak start on tentative note
In most of the games throughout the Champions Trophy, Pakistani openers gave the impetus to the scoring. However, on Saturday, Imran Nazir and Kamran Akmal played unlike themselves.
They were cautious in their approach.
With the New Zealand bowlers, Shane Bond in particular, giving nothing away, things got only desperate for the Pakistanis. They did find the odd boundary but couldn't go after the bowlers as much as they would have liked to.
The bowlers did get some help from the pitch and they made good use of it to keep the batsmen in check.
Image: Pakistani opener Imran Nazir plays a shot through covers
Butler serves up hot spells
At just over four runs an over, Pakistani openers made steady progress in the early overs. They however, couldn't keep the partnership going and lost the first wicket in the 10th over.
Bond's consistent bowling paid off. He forces Imran Nazir to play at one who misjudges the delivery only to guide it into the hands of Ross Taylor at first slip.
When Ian Butler came into bowl, he was hit all over the park by Kamran Akmal in his first two overs. Butler though learnt his lessons early and started to bowl a deadly line.
In no time, Butler made an impact. He got the ball to do all sorts of things and forced Malik to play at a delievery that lands straight into the hands of Taylor.
Hereafter, Butler bowled lethally and went onto finish with career-best figures of 4-43.
Image: Ian Butler celebrates after picking the wicket of Shoaib Malik
Umar plays mature hand
After Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals, Mohammad Yousuf and Umar Akmal took it upon themselves to play a steady innings. They rotated the strike well and played with a cool head.
Umar Akmal was a revelation. After his exploits in the match against the West Indies in the group stages, Umar Akmal showed that he can be counted upon when most wanted.
He started off tentatively, but within no time he raced ahead of Mohammad Yousuf to complete his half century and take them closer to the 200-mark.
Eventually, it was blazing innigs by tailenders, Mohammad Aamer (19 off 20 balls) and Saeed Ajmal (14 off 17 deliveries) that took Pakistan to a respectable 233-9.
Image: Umar Akmal drives the ball during his innings of 55
Early setback for New Zealand
New Zealand openers, McCullum and Redmond started their innings on a positive note. McCullum, in particular, looked in menacing form. In just the second ball of the innings, McCullum sent a Mohammad Aamer delivery into the crowds, making his intentions known.
His attitude rubbed off on his partner too and together they went on the prowl, hammering the bowlers for boundaries all over the park.
However, it took just five overs for Pakistan to make the first strike. McCullum skies a delivery off Aamer, straight into the hands of Afridi in the outfield. Aamer gets his revenge and out comes Guptill.
McCullum's wicket doesn't stop Redmond from going after the bowling, and this time Guptill joins him in the act. Guptill scores a quick-fire 11 off 10 deliveries (1 four and 1 six) before falling to Umar Gul. Naved-ul-Rana takes a simple catch at mid-on to end Guptill's short stint in the middle.
Image: Umar Gul celebrates the wicket of Martin Guptill
Ross does the rescue act
Ross Taylor (38) has played many-a-momorable innings to rescue New Zealand from the brink.
On Saturday, he repeated the act to put the Kiwis in a decent position. After the loss of Redmond in the 17th over, Taylor joined hands with Grant Elliot to start a partnership from scratch.
They moulded a 55-run partnership by taking the singles and rotating the strike. But Taylor misread an Afridi delievery and was bowled by a straighter one.
Image: Ross Taylor guides the ball down towards fine-leg boundary