James Neesham played the knock of a lone warrior after much of the New Zealand batting order had depleted, thanks to the pace battery of Pakistan at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Wednesday. Neesham top-scored for New Zealand with an unbeaten 97 off 112 balls, including five boundaries and three sixes, recording his highest one-day international (ODI) score.
New Zealand's top-order collapsed after a vicious pace attack by Shaheen Afridi took out Colin Munro, Tom Latham, and Ross Taylor leaving New Zealand red-faced and helpless. Neesham along with Colin de Grandhomme recorded the highest sixth-wicket partnership, contributing 132 runs off 128 deliveries which helped New Zealand reach a formidable total of 237. The duo's stand was also the fifth highest partnership for the sixth wicket in World Cup history.
Neesham also became the first batsman to score a six off Mohammad Amir's ball in this World Cup. After bowling 324 balls without conceding a single six in the ongoing tournament, Mohammad Amir was smashed out of the park by James Neesham, breaking Amir's record.
Grandhomme scored 64 runs from 71 balls before getting run out in the 48th over. His innings included six fours and one six while New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson played a gritty knock of 41 off 69 balls including four boundaries. The rest of the batting line-up succumbed to the fiery pace attack of Pakistan.
However, Neesham's knock sent a message to the cricketing universe that gone are the days when the batting unit was solely responsible for putting runs on the board. The knock from the all-rounder signified that the depth of the batting can extend past the top four into the lower half of the team.