A much-improved effort from the batting line-up helped Pakistan seal their first win on tour and level the three-match Twenty20 International series 1-1 in Auckland on Thursday (January 25). Set 202, New Zealand could only manage 153 in 18.3 overs and eventually ran out of steam to fall short by 48.
After opting to bat, Pakistan were served well by the opening duo of Ahmed Shehzad, back in the side for this contest, and Fakhar Zaman. On a batting-friendly track, their positive approach helped the vistors canter to a fast start. Batting revival was going to be key for Pakistan if they were to come back in the T20I series after being swatted aside in the first clash.
Pakistan’s top four did their job. Zaman scored his maiden T20I half-century, Shehzad made 44 off 34, Sarfraz Ahmed made 41 off 24 while Babar Azam’s half-century off 29 balls in the end helped them past the 200-run mark.
The innings got going with Zaman and Shehzad picking up three boundaries in the fifth over bowled by Seth Rance. At the end of the powerplay, Pakistan were 57 for no loss with both openers set. They continued to propel the side and helped the team reach 94 for 1 by the end of the tenth over.
Shehzad was the first one to fall when he slapped a full ball from Rance to long on. Zaman fell soon after when he was caught at long leg trying to pull a short ball from Colin de Grandhomme. At 96 for 2 after a brisk start, New Zealand had finally found an opening. However, their attempts to curb the scoring rate were slashed by rampaging Sarfaraz and Babar.
They went on to score 91 for the third wicket in just the next eight overs to put Pakistan well on course to a big target. They managed to pick up 11 in the final over end the innings with momentum on their side.
New Zealand, in their reply, were dismal. Even with Pakistan posting the big score, the hosts would have fancied their chances considering the form their batsmen have been in. However, things went pear-shaped pretty quickly for them as they slipped to 64 for 6 by the ninth over.
Mohammad Amir trapped Colin Munro plumb in front in the third over while Ruman Raees dismissed Kane Williamson in the very next over. Tom Bruce was run out for 11 in the sixth over to leave New Zealand wobbling. The early setbacks and the pressure of the big score on the board meant New Zealand never really recovered in the chase.
Martin Guptill scored 26 off 27 but found it hard to get going before he was dismissed by Shadab. With the chase going nowhere in the first nine over, Pakistan were able to canter to an easy win and kept their hopes alive of ending the tour with some silverware.
Brief scores: Pakistan 201/4 in 20 overs (Babar Azam 50*, Fakhar Zaman 50; Ben Wheeler 2-36) beat New Zealand 153 in 18.3 overs (Faheem Ashraf 3-22) by 48 runs.