Kane Williamson showed his class in his first competitive outing in six months while Rachin Ravindra sizzled at the top of the order as New Zealand gunned down a 346-run target in their opening World Cup warm-up game against Pakistan here on Friday.
New Zealand won the game by five wickets.
Barring the openers, Pakistan batters including Mohammad Rizwan (103 retired hurt off 91), Babar Azam (80 off 84) and Saud Shaukeel (75 off 53) had a good hit in the middle, helping their team post a daunting 345 for five in 50 overs.
New Zealand cruised to the target in 43.4 overs with contributions from Ravindra (97 off 72), Williamson (54 off 50), Daryl Mitchell (59 retired hurt off 57) and Mark Chapman (65 not out off 41).
What a run chase! 👌
— ICC (@ICC) September 29, 2023
While Pakistan had all 15 squad members to choose from in the first of their two practice games before the tournament proper, New Zealand had the option of trying out 14 players with Tim Southee yet to arrive in India as he continues to recover from a thumb injury.
Ravindra, batting at the top in place of Will Young, gave the team management another opening option alongside Devon Conway, who lasted only one ball in the steep run chase.
With the focus firmly on managing players’ workload ahead of the main competition, Williamson walked back into the dressing room after scoring a sublime half-century.
Williamson, who continues his knee rehabilitation from the injury he suffered in the IPL in March, only came out to bat on Friday and will not be part of the World Cup opener against England on October 5.
However, considering the way he batted against the Pakistan attack, it certainly seemed he was ready on the batting front if not the other areas of the game.
A couple of back foot punches in the cover region off a seriously quick Haris Rauf showed that Williamson was very much close to his best.
Ravindra at the other end pretty much dealt in boundaries with his first 24 runs coming off only fours. His entertaining innings comprised 16 fours and a six.
Number four Mitchell put New Zealand on the cusp of a comfortable win before retiring out. Chapman and Jimmy Neesham then bullied an ordinary-looking Pakistan attack to pick up a confidence-boosting win for New Zealand.
While the majority of the Pakistan batters would be pleased with their efforts, the bowlers have plenty to worry about.
Star pacer Shaheen Afridi did not bowl in the game, allowing Haris Rauf and Hasan Ali to audition for the new ball in the absence of injured Naseem Shah.
Rauf bowled only a four over spell and leaked 36 runs without a wicket. Hasan Ali, who is back in the Pakistan set up after nine months, was decent in his opening spell before going for runs in the later stages of New Zealand innings.
Leggie Shadab Khan did not bowl and Usama Mir (2/68 in 10) took couple of wickets in his absence. Part-time spinner Salman Agha (1/60 in 8) was easy meat for the opposition and so was left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (0/55 in 7). Mohammad Wasim Jr (1/58 in 7) too proved expensive on a tough day for the bowlers.
After Pakistan opted to bat, Babar played his trademark drives on the off-side and ended with eight fours and two sixes. The game was played behind closed doors as it coincided with festivities surrounding Ganesh idol immersion.