DUNEDIN, New Zealand (AP) — Kane Williamson and Ross Taylor made half centuries as New Zealand reached 257 batting first Saturday on a challenging pitch at the University Oval in the third one-day cricket international against Pakistan.
Williamson, who has a century already in the five-match series, took time to find his form on a pitch slower than others the teams have played on recently. He took 81 balls to reach his 33rd half century in one-day internationals and went on to top-score with 73, providing the backbone of the New Zealand middle order.
Taylor was able to score more freely than Williamson, perhaps because the conditions favored the straight-bat shots which are his forte, and reached his 40th ODI half century from 49 balls.
Williamson put on 69 with Martin Guptill (45) for the second wicket and 74 with Taylor for the third to lift New Zealand to 158-3 before he was out in the 34th over.
At that point, New Zealand was on target for a total close to 300 which would have been well above par on such a difficult pitch.
But after Taylor was out for 52 in the 43rd over with the total 209-4, New Zealand slumped dramatically, losing its next six wickets for 48 runs.
Henry Nicholls was out one ball after Taylor, both falling to the young leg-spinner Shadab Khan, and Tom Latham (35) and Mitchell Santner (6) fell to consecutive deliveries from Rumman Raees and Hasan Ali.
Ali, the world's top-ranked ODI bowler, also dismissed Trent Boult (13) with the last ball of the innings to finish with 3-59 while Raees, whose victims included Williamson and Latham, took 3-51.
Pakistan's bowlers seemed to get better as the ball got older, making excellent use of slower, shorter deliveries which confounded the batsmen when they didn't bounce or come onto the bat as expected.
Taylor fell in that manner to Shadab, beaten by a short ball which failed to bounce, beat his shot and hit him in front of middle stump.
There was a little pace in the wicket when the ball was new and Guptill and his opening partner Colin Munro each hit a six in the first two overs.
But Munro was out for 8 in the second over, slashing across the line at a ball from Faheem Ashraf and delivering a skied catch to Pakistan wickekeeper and captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
Williamson, who came to the crease on Munro's departure, took a long time to settle and find the pace of the pitch, but applied himself to go on to a half century.
Taylor was able to hit down the ground and through cover which made run-scoring easier but his half century included only four fours and, in total, the New Zealand innings contained only 22 fours and two sixes.
The rot set in quickly in the second half of the innings as the Pakistan bowling improved, some swing became available and as batsmen felt themselves under an imperative to score quickly.
Nicholls was brilliantly caught and bowled by Shadab and Santner and Tim Southee (6) were both bowled by Hasan who swung the ball at yorker length.