Conway shines, spinners mesmerise Pakistan batters as NZ level series.

KARACHI -- It was supposed to be the day Pakistan could go one step closer to become the world's top One-day International side. Coming into the second game of the three-match series against New Zealand on the back of nine consecutive wins, that shouldn't have been a big ask for the hosts.

But it spun too much for Pakistan's liking after New Zealand, who once threatened to accumulate a mammoth total, put up 261 - a target that Pakistan fell short of by 79 runs here at the National Stadium on Wednesday.

The result also ruled out the possibility of Pakistan making a clean sweep, which was required to take them to the top of the ICC ODI rankings.

The total looked reachable for Pakistan before New Zealand brought spinners into the attack. And despite skipper Babar Azam's fighting 79 off 114 balls, the hosts failed to control the proceedings.

Pakistan were dealt early blows losing openers Imam-ul-Haq and Fakhar Zaman with the latter falling first after edging pacer Tim Southee to wicket-keeper Tom Latham.

Imam was undone by Southee's new-ball partner Lockie Ferguson as a short one by the right-armer drew the batter into a miscued pull shot to get caught by Daryl Mitchell at square leg.

It was now down to Babar and Rizwan to rescue Pakistan. The duo did ensure Pakistan don't lose more wickets, at least until the 20th over, but at the expense of safety the hosts' run-rate nosedived drastically.

Babar started his knock with a flick of wrists off Southee for four before pulling Ferguson for another. He hit another boundary off Southee through the off side. Rizwan, meanwhile, pulled Ferguson for his first four before Babar swept spinner Mitchell Santner for another in the 10th over. Pakistan's next boundary came five overs later and at that point, the hosts were playing at a run-rate of less than four.

The partnership was broken when Rizwan was cleaned up by Santner after adding just 28 off 50 balls. His stand with Babar was worth 55 runs that came off 99 balls. The dismissal left Pakistan reeling at 64-3 with 198 runs required off the next 30 overs.

Pakistan scored their first boundary in 10 overs when Babar cut spinner Ish Sodhi through backward point but that only happened before Haris Sohail was trapped lbw by Glenn Phillips, reducing the hosts to 86-4.

The arrival of Agha Salman at the crease gave Pakistan some hope when the batter looked to sweep the spinners, a shot that Babar and Rizwan did not utilise on a surface conducive to spin bowling.


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