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NZ face herculean task to avoid sweep

An under-strength New Zealand faces a huge task if it is to stop Pakistan from clean sweeping the one-day series on Sunday in Rawalpindi.

india Updated: Dec 08, 2003 00:19 IST

An under-strength New Zealand faces a huge task if it is to prevent Pakistan from taking a clean sweep of their one-day international cricket series Sunday when they meet in the fifth and final match.

Pakistan captain Inzamam-ul-Haq was upbeat after Friday's seven-wicket victory.

"So far we have outclassed our rivals and by no means we are relaxing," said Inzamam, who will also lead Pakistan in the two Tests and five one-day international series in New Zealand, starting later this month.

"We are taking the fifth game seriously and are confident to wrap up the series 5-0 tomorrow," a beaming Pakistan captain told Associated Press.

Pakistan young openers Yasir Hameed and Imran Farhat have scored loads of runs in the first four games which gave an ideal platform to hard-hitting Abdul Razzaq to show his prowess in the death overs with some hard hitting.

Hameed has scored half centuries in all the fours games to accumulate 229 runs while Farhat, an elegant left-handed batsman, despite being out on nought in the opening game, has grafted 241 runs in the next three innings.

"That's the key to our success, our openers have performed brilliantly and have always given us a solid start," said Inzamam.

Both openers have given century starts — 115, 142 and 134 — in three successive matches.

New Zealand captain Chris Cairns, who had to lead a new-look side after seven key Kiwi players either pulled out or got injured for the short tour to Pakistan, admitted that his inexperienced players were mentally tired after Pakistan recorded seven-wicket win under lights on Friday at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

"It was a good old-fashioned hiding, that was the reality," Cairns said after the match.

"I feel tired, I've been playing for a while so these new guys are going to be exhausted.

"They're mentally very tired because it's an incredibly intense situation."

New Zealanders couldn't get good starts from new openers Craig Cumming and Richard Jones while their seam bowlers Michael Mason, Paul Hitchcock and even experienced Daryl Tuffey also failed to make early inroads into Pakistan batting.

"It was a completely below-par performance at international level," Cairns admitted.

However, Cairns had a soft corner for his seven debutantes, who had to play top level international cricket against top opposition in nine days.

"These guys haven't been exposed to the mental intensity of what we're dealing with, five games in nine days against top opposition," he said.

"We've only got one day to turn it around and that's been the difficult part," Cairns said.

New Zealand (from): Chris Cairns (captain), Tama Canning, Craig Cumming, Chris Harris, Paul Hitchcock, Richard Jones, Hamish Marshall, Brendon McCullum, Jacob Oram, Mathew Sinclair, Daryl Tuffey, Daniel Vettori, Matthew Walker, Kerry Walmsley, Michael Mason

Pakistan (from): Inzamam-ul-Haq (captain), Imran Farhat, Saleem Elahi, Yasir Hameed, Yousuf Youhana, Shoaib Malik, Abdul Razzaq, Azhar Mahmood, Moin Khan, Danish Kaneria, Shabbir Ahmed, Mohammad Sami, Shoaib Akhtar, Misbah-ul-Haq, Umer Gul.

Umpires: David Orchard, South Africa, Nadeem Ghauri, Pakistan.

Television replays: Asad Rauf, Pakistan.

Match referee: Denis Lindsay, South Africa.

First Published: Dec 06, 2003 13:02 IST