WELLINGTON: Kane Williamson may have been New Zealand’s hero in their dominant win over Pakistan in the opening ODI in Wellington on Saturday, but he said it was not a game for heroics.
“You’re always thinking about the role you need to play and the situation of the game, and it certainly didn’t require something silly,” Williamson said after New Zealand beat the Champions Trophy holders by 61 runs under the Duckworth-Lewis-Stern system.
New Zealand made 315 for seven in their 50 overs and had the tourists at 166 for six when rain stopped play in the 31st over.
Pakistan had arrived on a nine-match winning streak but fresh from playing in more accommodating conditions than the 120 kilometres per hour (75 mph) winds and rain that greeted them in Wellington.
After being sent in to bat, Colin Munro (58) and Martin Guptill (48) gave New Zealand a flying start with 83 for the first wicket before Williamson went to the middle with the dismissal of Munro in the 13th over.
While the openers plundered the boundaries, Williamson’s 115 off 117 deliveries came from a diet of ones and twos with only eight fours and one six.
“It was holding in the wicket a little bit, and you come to a point in your innings where you both address it sensibly and accept that’s what it is doing, or you do something silly,” said Williamson.
New Zealand captain then admired Pakistan bowler by saying: “Today I was a little bit more sensible and accepting of the fact that they did bowl well for a long time there, and I felt we were perhaps fortunate to get that above 300 score. They did execute their plans well, the wind was tough to deal with, and maybe that’s where we gained an upper hand, but you do ebb and flow through an innings.”
Williamson, who was dropped on 26 by Pakistan wicketkeeper and captain Sarfraz Ahmed, also featured in a 90-run partnership off 80 balls with Henry Nicholls before he was caught by Hasan Ali off Rumman Raees in the 48th over.
Hasan was central in most of the key New Zealand wickets with the dismissals of Munroe, Nicholls (50) and Ross Taylor (12) to finish with three for 61.
Pakistan were in trouble in the very first over of their reply when Tim Southee took the wickets of Azhar Ali and Babar Azam, both lbw.
Fakhar Zaman battled bravely to try to restore the Pakistan innings and was unbeaten on 82, the only innings of note when rain stopped play and Southee had the figures of three for 22.
“It’s a setback for us, especially after losing two wickets in the first over,” said Sarfraz who also shouldered part of the blame for his own fielding lapse. “The New Zealand’s batsmen batted well, especially Kane Williamson. If you drop catches, it becomes tough. Hopefully, we will sit together and come up with a better performance next time.”
Skipper Sarfraz Ahmed pinpointed tough condition as well as losing both Azhar Ali and Babar Azam in the opening over as the prime reasons for his team’s abysmal showing in the opening ODI defeat to New Zealand on Saturday — excuses that didn’t sit well with legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas.
Pakistan were outclassed in the opening match, first allowing the Kiwis to post a mammoth 315-run total before being reduced to 166-6 in their run-chase, eventually losing by 66 runs under the Duckworth–Lewis method after rain kept the match from being completed.
“These were tough condition for us but the New Zealand batsmen batted well, especially Kane Williamson,” said Sarfraz, who dropped the Kiwi captain’s catch early in his innings. in his post-match interview. “We also lost early wickets and never truly recovered from that setback.”
However, the Pakistan captain vowed that the team will discuss its weaknesses and make necessary adjustments to ensure improved performances for the rest of the tour. “Hopefully, we will sit together and come up with a better performance next time.”
But legendary batsman Zaheer Abbas told Sarfraz and team to not use difficult conditions as an excuse, saying same is the case for other sides when they visit Pakistan’s adopted home of UAE.
“There shouldn’t be any excuses because when other sides visit UAE they perform as well as they could in what are difficult conditions for them,” the former Test cricketer told Dawn News.
Meanwhile, Williamson, who scored 115 off 117 deliveries, was more understanding of his counterpart’s problem as he praised Pakistan’s bowling effort and agreed that playing conditions were tough.
“They did bowl well for a long time there, and I felt we were perhaps fortunate to get that above 300 score,” Williamson said. “They did execute their plans well, the wind was tough to deal with, and maybe that’s where we gained an upper hand.”
The second match in the five-match series is in Nelson on Tuesday.