Bengaluru: Rachin Ravindra made a hundred with talent written in bold letters over it, while Kane Williamson nearly made a century on comeback as New Zealand piled up a mammoth 401 for six against Pakistan in a crunch World Cup match here on Saturday.
Pakistan bowlers did not have enough variations to counter a smooth Chinnaswamy Stadium pitch as Ravindra (108 off 94 balls) and Williamson (95 off 79 balls) ran them ragged after the Kiwis were asked to bat first.
It was also only the second instance in this event that a team crossed the 400-run mark after South Africa did that against Sri Lanka in New Delhi.
Pakistan (six points) need to chase the target in 35.2 overs to climb to the fourth spot, which is with the Kiwis (eight points).
The 180 runs that Ravindra, who registered his third century of the tournament, and Williamson made off 142 balls for the second wicket gave New Zealand a confident launching pad after defeats in their last three matches.
Williamson and Ravindra accelerated linearly for a large part of their alliance – well-taken singles and twos interspersed with those occasional hits to and over the ropes.
Williamson joined the action after a 68-run opening stand between Ravindra and Devon Conway, and the right-hand, left-hand combination gave a torrid time to Pakistan.
They were relentless but rather methodically. In fact, they scored only at 5.90 runs per over between 11th and 20th over before pressing the accelerator in the subsequent overs.
Even then their batting was all about class. Williamson’s backfoot punch off pacer Haris Rauf that pierced the mid-off region carried all the oomph quotient with it and he did not spare spinners as well.
Pakistan gave the containment duty to off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed but Williamson greeted him with two fours in succession – one through mid-off and the other over mid-wicket.
Ravindra's off-side play with zero trigger movement was a sight for the sore eyes.
A flowing cover drive off pacer Hasan Ali and a withering square cut off Ahmed gave a touch of elegance, while a well-timed pull off Rauf that landed on the second tier stand over mid-on gave his innings a bit of muscle.
There was a streak of innovation too when the left-hander ramped Rauf for a boundary over stumper Mohammad Rizwan’s head.
Ravindra brought up a popular hundred with a single off pacer Mohammad Wasim, as a good weekend crowd loudly chanted ‘Raachin Raachin.’ The 90s kids would easily have visualised stands filled with that reverberating ‘Saachin Saachin’ chants at that moment.
However, the double barrel firing came to an end when Williamson fell well within sight of his 14th ODI hundred, an attempt to clear the fence off Ahmed ended in a finely judged catch by Fakhar Zaman at long-on.
Ravindra too did not last long as his pull off Wasim was snaffled at square leg by Saud Shakeel.
Pakistan might have thought of making a late comeback as they did against Australia a few days ago here, but Mark Chapman and Daryl Mitchell gave further impetus to Kiwis innings making 57 runs off 32 balls for the fourth wicket.
Glenn Phillips (41 off 26 balls) too chipped in with some typical beefy blows as the Black Caps innings switched on the afterburners.
In total, New Zealand made 114 runs in the last 10 overs to give Pakistan a steep mountain to scale down.