New Zealand 153 – 7 (Colin Munro 44, Corey Anderson 44*, Kane Williamson 37; Shaheen Afridi 3-20)
Pakistan 154 - 4 (Babar Azam 40, Asif Ali 38, Mohammad Hafeez 34*; Adam Milne 2-25)
Result - Pakistan won by 6 wickets
They made it home in a tense finish, with two balls remaining. New Zealand fought well but just did not have enough runs to snatch a win. Pakistan’s six wicket victory stretched the successive T20I series wins to 11.
Fakhar Zaman the flamboyant left-hander returning to the side, alongside Babar Azam, kicked off the innings with 40 scored in the first 4.4 overs. Babar, calm and assured on these UAE pitches with Asif Ali as his partner, took Pakistan to 75-1 in 10 overs. All plain sailing. Asif’s promotion to the No.3 slot shows the Pakistan team management is not rigid and in this format, No.5 in the batting line-up is too late for him. After hitting Tim Southee for a six over mid-wicket in the 13th over, he required the physio’s attention for his cramps. Babar hit 40 off 41 balls with 4 fours and was the second wicket to fall on 96.
Pakistan required 55 off 36 balls and its 100 came off 14.2 overs which left a simple equation of 50 off the last 5 overs (30 balls). Asif played well before being trapped leg-before to a full-toss, a ball after hitting a six. His dismissal for 38 off 34 balls left his team to score 40 off last 4 overs (24 balls). Ish Sodhi’s fourth over was smashed for 17 runs and cost his team the match as Hafeez hit him for two sixes, a slog-sweep to mid-wicket and another over long-on. Malik failed in his attempt to finish the match with a six, he was out to a full-toss to deep mid-wicket. Hafeez hit Adam Milne over cover for a boundary to see Pakistan home with only two balls to spare. Without his experience, New Zealand might have taken the game to square the series. A sweetly-timed 34 off 21 balls with 1 four and 2 sixes to go with two tidy overs with his off-spin, Hafeez, was the key man for Pakistan.
There were two stages in New Zealand’s innings when a 180 plus total looked very much on the cards. All three of its big guns – Colin Munro (44 off 28 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes), Kane Williamson (37 off 34 balls, 2 fours) and Corey Anderson (44 not out off 25 balls, 4 fours, 2 sixes) – clicked but could only muster 153-7, thanks to another splendid display by Pakistan in the field. New Zealand openers started well and by five overs they had taken the score to 47 without being separated. Imad Wasim, after going for 13 in the opening over of the match, returned to bowl three economical overs to pull back New Zealand’s score to 68-3 after 10, with his final figures reading 1-25 off 4 overs. He is more than a handy player in T20 format. Hasan Ali, had an off day and was hit for 43 runs in 3 overs but in a six-man bowling attack, he was not required to bowl his quota.
Shaheen Afridi, trusted with bowling in the death or slog overs, did not concede easy runs. As a tall left-arm pace bowler, Afridi is not so easy to go after and on a good day seemed to produce more wicket-taking deliveries than others. Showing good control with the yorker and slower ball, he picked up Williamson and conceded just one run in the 18th over of NZ innings. Afridi’s excellent return of 3 for 20 off 4 overs won him the Man of the Match award.
Pakistan - Babar Azam, Fakhar Zaman, Mohammad Hafeez, Asif Ali, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi
New Zealand - Colin Munro, Glenn Phillips, Kane Williamson(c), Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Tim Seifert(wk), Tim Southee, Adam Milne, Ish Sodhi, Ajaz Patel
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