Cricket: Anwar sets tone for rampant Pakistan

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Pakistan 269 New Zealand 207-8 Pakistan win by 62 runs

THE GRAFFITI was on the wall from the first ball of Pakistan's innings - a pull for four by Saeed Anwar - and there was nothing New Zealand could do to erase it. The Pakistan openers sprayed colourful shots at will, etching their side's intent in this tournament indelibly on the consciousness in a comprehensive victory.

And when they had done with the bat after a brutal unbeaten 73 from Inzamam- ul-Haq and a more subtle 51 from Ijaz Ahmed, Pakistan reminded those watching and their tournament rivals just how dangerous they are with the ball.

All eyes were on Shoaib Akhtar as New Zealand's openers failed to pick up a sight of the ball properly and ended by edging catches to wicketkeeper Moin Khan.

Shoaib was his usual impressive self, but it was Azhar Mahmood, with two wickets in as many balls, who brought the Kiwis to their knees. That pair of wickets, both leg before, had followed one from Saqlain Mushtaq when Roger Twose presented Inzamam-ul-Haq with a catch at midwicket.

It was all a little tough on the New Zealanders, who in defeat would have to wait on what Australia do against the West Indies before they discover whether they can progress to the Super Six stage of the competition.

The problem was that, admirable as the New Zealand attack was, the Kiwis had no one with the pace of Shoaib, the nagging accuracy of Azhar and his captain, Wasim Akram, or the guile of Saqlain.

It left the field clear for Saeed and Shahid Afridi to wade into the New Zealand bowlers, punishing anything short - which a lot of it was, especially in the opening overs, and they hit 23 runs off the first two.

By the time Anwar and Shahid Afridi were prised apart they had rattled off 40 runs. The flow was stemmed by Gavin Larsen and Chris Cairns, but the departure of Abdul Razzaq - the first of two unnecessary run-outs - for a solid 33 merely brought Inzamam out to entertain Pakistan supporters.

Inzamam is not regarded as one of the best runners or callers of a run, so it was no surprise when Ijaz was run out, backing up far enough to allow Chris Harris time and room to hit the stumps. Since Ijaz had just reached his fifty and was getting into his stride, it was a particularly cruel dismissal.

Not long after Salim Malik was yorked by Geoff Allott, Inzamam was told off by his captain after failing to call for a run when Wasim had turned a delivery down to fine leg.

Wasim's response could not have been more eloquent or more pointed. He took out his feelings on the poor bowlers and Harris and Cairns at various times felt the full force of his ire.

Allott was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with four deserved wickets, but they did not come cheaply, the left-arm paceman conceding 64 runs in his 10 overs.

The prolific and powerfully built Inzamam passed 6,000 runs in limited- overs internationals on the way to his 73 from just 61 balls. He was, not surprisingly, unbeaten at the end, and each delivery of the innings was accompanied by the threnody of the drum, which led green-clad followers around the ground in joyous and celebratory mood. The supporters took it in turns to beat out the rhythm of the anticipated victory.

Nothing was going to silence them as their team took control of the match and their group.

Not even the courageous half-century of New Zealand captain, Stephen Fleming, could silence them, as he made a solitary effort to attain respectability and, at the same time, try to lift the Kiwis' run rate in the event of that becoming a factor in determining who should slip into third place in Group B and clinch a Super Six appearance.

As far as Pakistan are concerned, though, the strength and depth of their team was there for all to see.