Pakistan Hold Nerve To Beat New Zealand
Pakistan 177-6 (Jamshed 56, Hafeez 43) beat
New Zealand 164-9 (Ajmal 4-30) by 13 runs
ICC World T20, Group D Match, Pallekele
Pakistan held their nerve against a late onslaught from Ross Taylor to record a 13-run win over New Zealand that more or less secured their passage to the super eight stage of the tournament. Mohammad Hafeez and Nasir Jamshed had been the main contributors with the bat for Pakistan, while Saeed Ajmal led the spin attack, ending with figures of four for 30.
When Brendon McCullum was fourth man out with the score on 108 to the first ball of the 16th over, the match looked to be over with New Zealand needing 70 off 29 balls. However, first Jacob Oram, and then Ross Taylor and James Franklin made the most of loose death bowling. Oram hit the final two balls of the 16th over for four before succumbing in the next, while Taylor, who bizarrely was demoted to number six in the Kiwi batting order, smashed Saeed Ajmal for six.
Franklin hit 10 runs off the first two balls of Sohail Tanvir's 18th over, before the bowler claimed his revenge by having him caught in the deep by Nasir Jamshed. Taylor, then struck the first three balls of the normally reliable Umar Gul's 19th over for four and Pakistan began to panic as the equation now read 22 off nine balls. Fortunately for them, Taylor ran himself out off the fourth ball, attempting to take two to long-on, and New Zealand's challenge was over - Taylor out for 26 off only 11 balls.
New Zealand's pursuit of Pakistan's 177 for six had began well enough as Rob Nicol and Kane Williamson - opening in place of the injured Martin Guptill - progressed to 38 without loss at the end of the fifth over. The introduction of spin, though, brought about a change in momentum as Shahid Afridi struck in his first over, bowling Nicol for 33 off 28 balls.
Mohammad Hafeez and Afridi then continued to turn the screw over the next few overs, with the former delivering his four overs for just 15 runs. Saeed Ajmal wasn't brought on until the 12th over and struck in his second with the wicket of Dan Vettori, while Gul removed Brendon McCullum just as he was getting going, leaving Ross Taylor to take the Black Caps close.
Pakistan captain Mohammad Hafeez had won the toss at the start of the match and chosen to bat on a pitch that was just beginning to show signs of wear. He made the most of being dropped off the bowling of Kyle Mills to make 43 off 38 balls and shared an opening stand of 47 with Imran Nazir, who looked the more solid of the two before perishing for 25 off 16 balls, and a second-wicket stand of 76 with Nasir Jamshed.
Jamshed was the stand-out Pakistani batsman, showing a remarkable poise at the crease and relied more on placement and timing than brute force to find the boundary. He did benefit from another dropped catch, also off the bowling of the hapless Mills, when on 42, as New Zealand's fielding and bowling fell short of its usual standards.
Umar Akmal (23 off 15 balls) and Shahid Afridi (12 off six) clobbered a handful of boundaries off the final few overs to haul Pakistan up to their total of 177 for six, with Tim Southee (two for 31) and Dan Vettori (one for 23) the pick of the New Zealand attack.
New Zealand's late onslaught was enough to guarantee them a place in the super eights thanks to their net run rate surpassing that of Pakistan's, meaning that Bangladesh must win their final match against Pakistan on Tuesday by a large margin if they are to qualify.
Jamshed was named man of the match for his cultured 56 and said of his knock and his approach when batting: "I am a stroke player that is why I am playing shots like these. From when I started batting I was never scared of anything, whether it is opposition bowlers or pressure. I just try to handle the pressure and enjoy my game. I just go out there and shuru ho jaata hoon [just start playing]."
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