All-round Pakistan thump New Zealand by 16 runs in Amir's comeback game
Pakistan 171-8 (Hafeez 61) beat
New Zealand 155 (Williamson 70) by 16 runs
First Twenty20 International in Auckland
Riding on Mohammad Hafeez's half-century and a clinical bowling performance, Pakistan overcame fifties from Kane Williamson and Colin Munro to win the first Twenty20 International against New Zealand in Auckland by 16 runs.
New Zealand won the toss and opted to field first. Mohammad Amir made the much awaited return after five years for Pakistan while Umar Gul too made a comeback.
For New Zealand, Ross Taylor and Mitchell McClenaghan missed out due to injuries while Todd Astle made his debut in the shortest format.
Matt Henry (1-31) started the proceedings for New Zealand with a maiden over to Mohammad Hafeez (61).
However, Hafeez got going with consecutive boundaries in the fourth over from Trent Boult (1-42).
Just when Ahmed Shehzad (16) changed gears with a boundary and a six, Adam Milne (4-37) had him caught at long-on in the very next delivery.
A 18-run sixth over plundered by Hafeez took Pakistan to 52 for one at the end of the powerplay.
Spin was introduced immediately after the powerplay and Mitchell Santner (2-14) deceived Sohaib Maqsood (0) who was caught behind by Luke Ronchi.
After a couple of quite overs, Shoaib Malik (20) upped the ante by smashing Astle (0-28) for a boundary and a six to take Pakistan to 77 for two at the half-way mark.
But, Malik perished to Santer in the next over looking for quick runs only to find the long-off fielder. Hafeez brought up his fifty off 36 deliveries as Pakistan reached 94 for three after 13 overs.
A brief 32-run stand between Hafeez and Umar Akmal (24) came to an end after the former was caught at square leg with Pakistan positioned at 111 for four after 15 overs.
Shahid Afridi (23) provided the much needed boost for Pakistan taking Henry to the cleaners in the 16th over. The Pakistan captain scored a couple of boundaries and two more sixes in his first five deliveries.
However, New Zealand came back strong dismissing both Akmal and Afridi in quick succession as Pakistan were restricted to 147 for six in the 18th over.
A nine-ball cameo from Imad Wasim (18) ensured Pakistan reached 171 for eight in the 20 overs.
Milne was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with a four-wicket haul while Santner chipped away with a couple of wickets and was the most economical as well.
Amir (1-31) opened the bowling for Pakistan and conceded eight runs in the first over, four of which were leg byes.
Martin Guptill (2) could not replicate his form against Pakistan after a mix-up between him and Williamson (70) costed his wicket in the second over.
Amir could have got Williamson in his second over, had it not been for Afridi (2-26) dropping a sitter in the covers.
On the other end, Munro (56) went berserk hitting Gul (2-38) for three sixes and a four in the sixth over as New Zealand reached 48 for one after the powerplay.
With three more sixes in the next four overs, Munro reached a 20-ball half-century as the 80-run stand between him and Williamson exerted a lot of pressure on the Pakistan bowlers.
However, soon after reaching his fifty, Munro dragged one on to the stumps off Wahab Riaz (3-34). New Zealand needed 83 from the final 10 overs with eight wickets in hand.
Afridi's 14th over dented New Zealand hopes as he removed Grant Elliott (3) and Luke Ronchi (0) in the same over.Gul got his first wicket removing Santner (0).
Williamson waged a lone fight at the other end hitting Riaz for a six and a four in the 16th over and followed it with a couple of boundaries off Amir in the next over to bring the target down to 39 runs off 18 deliveries.
However, some tight bowling at the death by the Pakistan pacers saw New Zealand losing the final four wickets while scoring just 22 runs and were dismissed for 155.
The 16-run victory allowed Pakistan to take a 1-0 lead in the three match series.
Riaz picked three wickets for Pakistan while Afridi and Gul managed two wickets each. Amir and Wasim (1-18) were the other wicket takers.
Afridi was adjudged the man of the match for his all-round performance. The second T20I is scheduled to be played on Sunday in Hamilton.
© Cricket World 2016