Pakistan beat New Zealand by 2 runs in 1st T20I in Abu Dhabi
If any bowling attack in world cricket can keep the likes of Colin Munro, Kane Williamson and Corey Anderson under check, it would be Pakistan.
Pakistan 148 - 6 (Mohammad Hafeez 45, Sarfraz Ahmed 34; Adam Milne 2-28)
New Zealand 146 - 6 (Colin Munro 58, Ross Taylor 42*; Hasan Ali 3-35)
Result - Pakistan won by 2 runs
The wicket-taking abilities of its strong bowling combination, has seen them go to the top of the ICC T20I World ranking. Tonight with its bowlers, once again showing how much they enjoy bowling second in these night matches in UAE and backed up by another superb display in the field, claimed a narrow 2-run victory in the first T20I against New Zealand at Abu Dhabi. The Kiwis, needing 17 off the last over from Shaheen Afridi, fell two runs short of their target, despite Taylor hitting a four of the last ball.
Pakistan, understandably had retained the 15-man squad that beat Australia convincingly, only last week. One anticipated the Kiwis to be a much tougher opponent than Australia and that Pakistan, might not get away with totals around 150, in order to win their 11th successive T20I series. Their run of success, built around 26 wins in 30 matches under Sarfraz Ahmed, is set to be challenged by the Kiwis. The playing conditions in Abu Dhabi, prompted the visitors to include two spinners, Ish Sodhi and uncapped Ajaz Patel, both of Indian extraction.
The 31-year old Durban-born left-handed opening batsman, Colin Munro, one of the most explosive T20 players in the world, can take the game away from opposition, in no time. He certainly brings the ‘Brendon McCullum’ spirit to the crease and has had great success with his batting method. In 45 T20I, he has an astonishing strike of 163.59 runs per hundreds ball and as one would guess, quite used to clearing the boundary at will. Munro’s ratio of 85 fours and 78 sixes is quite staggering set of statistics, bound to play on the minds of the opposition bowlers. In that light, his duel with Pakistan spinners, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan and Mohammad Hafeez, in the night game at Abu Dhabi, was quite appetizing and his dismissal proved a turning point.
Batting first had worked for Pakistan so well in UAE against Australia that captain Sarfraz Ahmed, opted to do the same against the Kiwis. The openers were back in the hut in the first four overs. Big hitting Asif Ali came one down and hit 24 off 21 balls but it was Mohammad Hafeez’s 45 off 36 balls with 5 fours and 2 sixes that held the centre stage. Sarfraz, walking in at number five, chipped in with 34 off 26 balls as New Zealand bowlers were on target and Pakistan seemed, at least 20 runs short of what could be termed as winning total. The 25 runs off the last two overs by Faheem Ashraf and Imad Wasim, propelled the total to 148-6.
A target of 149 could turn into a tricky run-chase, with the pitch slowing down with each passing over. Munro had given his side a great chance to go one-up in the series with his 58 off 42 balls with 6 fours and 3 sixes and the score reaching 79-1 in the 12th over. After he was caught at long-on, New Zealand lost the key wicket of captain Williamson and Harare-born all-rounder Colin de Grandhomme, in the next two overs. The street-smart Sarfraz, juggling as always, did not allow the Kiwis to get used to the pace of any bowler, by constantly ringing changes. It is one format that Sarfraz is at home with and former opener Mohsin Khan’s suggestion of relieving the wicket-keeper of Test captaincy, will benefit both the player and the Pakistan team.
Pakistan bowlers put the brakes on scoring when it claimed three wickets for just 30 runs in over number 11 to 15, leaving New Zealand to get 53 off the last 5 overs. Ross Taylor, compensated for lack of boundaries with brilliant running between the wickets and his unbeaten 42 off 26 balls with 3 fours, was a clever innings and almost got his team to the finish line. Hasan Ali, bowled the 19th over and though he conceded 9 runs, he claimed two wickets and his final figures of 3-35 off 4 overs, was a match-winning effort. The Man of the Match award though was deservingly won by 38-year old Mohammad Hafeez, with an innings of 45 and three economical overs of off-spin. Pakistan one up with two to play.
Pakistan - Babar Azam, Sahibzada Farhan, Mohammad Hafeez, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Sarfraz Ahmed(c)(wk), Faheem Ashraf, Imad Wasim, Shadab Khan, Hasan Ali, Shaheen Afridi
New Zealand - Glenn Phillips, Colin Munro, Kane Williamson(c), Colin de Grandhomme, Ross Taylor, Corey Anderson, Tim Seifert(wk), Adam Milne, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Ajaz Patel
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