Pakistan secure series win

Chasing a realistic target of 269 on a good batting deck with short boundaries, the BLACKCAPS blew their chance to square the series, losing by 41 runs after they were dismissed for 227in the 47th over.

It was Pakistan's third win on the trot and they take an unassailable 3-1 lead into the six and final match, at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.

Pakistan again outbatted and outthought New Zealand, who have now won one match out of their last 15.

As was the case in the previous two matches, the tourists had a top order batsmen get a big score - it was opener Ahmed Shehzad's turn this time with his maiden hundred - then watched as New Zealand's top and middle order order got starts before basically issuing their own death warrants.

Sound like deja vu? It was.

The chase started disastrously when non-striker Jesse Ryder was run out on the first ball of the innings, overcommitting while backing up and unable to get back in time as Misbah-ul-Haq swooped at mid-on and threw the stumps down from side on. It continued a terrible run for the burly Wellington batsman, who has had five ducks on the tour.

Jamie How laboured for 12 from 39 balls before his strength again proved to be his weakness, as he pulled a short ball straight down deep square leg's throat for the third time in three matches.

Martin Guptill again looked in top form at the crease and he eased his way through to 65 but he was guilty of not pushing on, hooking a short ball from Shoaib Akhtar to deep backward square.

Captain Ross Taylor held the key and at one stage he looked as though he would steer his team to victory despite the fact senior players around him threw their wickets away.

Brendon McCullum scored an edgy nine before holing out at long on and Scott Styris ran himself out for the same score, but Taylor stood firm, reaching his first half century in eight innings as New Zealand entered the final 10 overs requiring 93 runs with five wickets and plenty of batting in hand.

But when Shahid Afridi trapped Taylor leg before wicket for 69, the lower order quickly disintegrated under pressure, Afridi and quicks Wahab Riaz and Umar Gul each taking three wickets.

Teenager Shehzad was the man of the match, however, announcing himself on the international stage with a maiden hundred as Pakistan posted 268 for nine.

The 19-year-old from Lahore totalled 173 runs from his first seven matches but today delivered on the promise he had shown glimpses of throughout this series, scoring 115 from 109 balls after the tourists were sent into bat.

Shehzad's technique and style is easy on the eye and he mixed 12 boundaries with three glorious sixes, all off New Zealand's quickest bowler, Hamish Bennett, in a chanceless breakthrough innings.

When he was out a good platform had been laid with Pakistan 197 for four in the 38th over, but New Zealand did well to restrict the tourists to 61 runs from the final 10 overs. They kept Afridi and Umar Akmal in check and picked up regular wickets, conceding a respectable 39 runs from five power-play overs between the 44th and 48th overs.

Kyle Mills, replacing the rested Tim Southee, was unerringly accurate in his first spell and although he conceded 21 runs from his final two overs, he was New Zealand's best with two for 42 from 10 overs.

Mills' opening partner was expensive, however, Bennett the chief victim of Shehzad's brilliant strokemaking. He ended with none for 56 from eight.

Offpsinner Nathan McCullum and medium pacer Styris both did a good job in the middle stages, McCullum taking one for 40 from 10 and Styris snaring two for 51 from nine. Jacob Oram conceded just 17 runs from his final four overs, three of which were in the power play, and ended with two for 49 from 10.

New Zealand's regular skipper Daniel Vettori, who tweaked a hamstring while fielding in the two-wicket loss at Napier on Tuesday, did not recover in time to lead the hosts and it is unclear whether he will be available for the dead rubber.

NZPA

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