| Stephen Fleming after New Zealand beat Pakistan by 8 wickets in the 4th ODI on Wednesday. (AFP)
Napier: New Zealand cantered to an eight-wicket win with 27 overs to spare in the fourth ODI against Pakistan on Wednesday to take an unassailable 3-1 lead in the five-match series.
After producing one of their finest one-day bowling efforts in recent years to dismiss Pakistan for 126, New Zealand were able to bat at leisure as they picked off the target in the 23rd over.
There was some movement off the pitch, but nothing to suggest it was as calamitous as Pakistan’s batsmen found it when their top-order was routed in the space of four overs, with five wickets falling for eight runs.
The meagre target helped New Zealand opener Craig Cumming, who has been the least effective in an often brittle batting line-up, as he had time to play himself in and ended with an unbeaten 45 to repay the selectors’ faith in him.
Captain Stephen Fleming was full of elegance, particularly with his flowing cover drives, but he appeared to come unnerved when peppered three times on the body in one over from Shoaib Akhtar and was dismissed by Azhar Mahmood in the next over.
New Zealand went from 84 for one to 87 for two as Hamish Marshall came and went, bringing in Chris Cairns who hit four fours in his 25 off 17 balls as New Zealand exacted revenge after losing a one-day series in Pakistan last month 0-5, and the recent home Test series 0-1.
“We were very determined after the Test series to do well in the one-day series, and winning (the series) in four games is great,” a delighted Fleming said. “A series win against Pakistan after coming off 5-0 in Pakistan is something we will celebrate tonight.”
Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul Haq conceded his side fell victim to injudicious shot selection. “Our shot selection was very bad and the New Zealand bowlers were bowling on the right length,” he said.
In a series where the captain who won the toss has bowled first and won every match, Fleming had no hesitation in putting Pakistan into bat when the coin fell his way.
Pakistan saw off the initial pace attack and comfortably reached 49 for one in the 14th over when the rot set in. Saleem Elahi and Imran Farhat fell in quick succession, nicking the ball to wicketkeeper Brendon McCullum.
Yousuf Youhana cracked a four off Jacob Oram, to see the 50 up, but that was the last moment he enjoyed as he played the next ball on to his stumps.
Four balls later, Inzamam was trapped leg-before by Cairns without scoring, then Shoaib Malik turned a ball from Cairns straight to Darryl Tuffey at square-leg and Pakistan were 57 for six.
Moin Khan brought up his 3,000th ODI run before being caught by Cairns. (AP)