New Zealand overcome nervy start to beat Pakistan


New Zealand had to seek inspiration from an unlikely source in its batting line up as Henry Nicholls proved a match-winner for the hosts in a 70-run victory over Pakistan.

The tourists were in dreamland early on as they took the scalps of the usually reliable Martin Guptill (11), Tom Latham (11), and Kane Williamson (10) for a combined 32, but Nicholls showed nerves of steel as he steadied the ship, knocking an impressive 82 runs in the process.

The Kiwis found themselves in all sorts of trouble when Grant Elliott went out for a duck off just his second ball to leave the hosts at 70-4.

Pakistan's opening bowlers Mohammad Ifran (2-43) and Mohammad Amir (3-28) had plenty of joy taking the wickets of Guptill and Latham respectively, before first-change bowler Anwar Ali (3-66) came in to sweep up Williamson.

Ali took Elliott's wicket just two balls later but Nicholls was not going to go so easily.

He had to bat through the short stays of Corey Anderson (10) and Luke Ronchi (5) - whose dismissal found the hosts stuck at 99-6 - but he finally found a partner with some staying power in Mitchell Santner (48) who combined with Nicholls for 79 runs.

Ifran took his wicket but Matt Henry (48 not out) proved just as stubborn, helping Nicholls and their team to another 25 runs before the latter was finally dismissed by Ali.

Mitchell McClenaghan came into knock the tourists for 31 off just 18 balls before retiring hurt, helping the hosts to a respectable final score of 280.

In the end, that total was easily defended courtesy of some top bowling from the hosts.

Elliott (3-43) redeemed his duck with the ball as he claimed the wickets of both Azhar Ali (19) and Ahmed Shehzad (13).

Mohammed Hafeez (42) and Babar Azam (62) proved tougher propositions for the hosts, putting on an 81-run partnership, but they were eventually claimed by Williamson (1-11) and Corey Anderson (1-35).

From there, it proved relatively routine.

Sarfraz Ahmed briefly looked dangerous, knocking 30 runs off 29 balls, but as the required run rate crept up into the sevens the tourists were forced to hunt for runs that simply weren't there.

Trent Boult (4-4) was on hand to clean up the tail end, bowling Amir and Ifran to leave the tourists all out for 210, securing the opening win of the ODI series for New Zealand.