Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Pakistan returned to the summit of the Twenty20 rankings after beating New Zealand by 18 runs in the third Twenty20 International and winning the series 2-1.
Choosing to bat first, Pakistan got off to a quick start before opener Ahmed Shehzad was caught behind off the bowling of Colin de Grandhomme for 19.
Babar Azam only made 18, but Fakhar Zaman and captain Sarfraz Ahmed stabilised the innings with a 40-run partnership.
Fakhar ended up making 46 off 36 balls, which included five boundaries and a six, before he was dismissed by Mitchell Santner.
Sarfraz went on to make 29 before becoming Santner’s second victim. Even though Pakistan started to lose wickets after he fell, they managed to reach 181/6 off their 20 overs thanks to Haris Sohail’s unbeaten 20, Umar Amin’s 21 and Aamer Yamin’s 15 not out.
Santner and Ish Sodhi picked up two wickets apiece, while De Grandhomme and Trent Boult chipped in with one wicket apiece.
Chasing 182 to win, New Zealand lost captain Kane Williamson in the sixth over as he was caught by Azam at cover off the bowling of Faheem Ashraf for nine runs.
Guptill and Anaru Kitchen made up for the loss of Williamson with a 52-run stand before Kitchen was stumped by Sarfraz off the bowling of Shadab Khan for 16.
Shadab struck again four balls later when he removed Guptill for 59, which came off 43 balls and included two boundaries and four sixes.
Image courtesy of: Zimbio
Despite Tom Bruce, Ross Taylor and Mitchell Santner scoring 22, 25 and 24 not out, New Zealand ended up falling short of their target.
Taylor’s dismissal sparked some controversy as he was given out caught behind following a review by Pakistan. However, despite telling Bruce he didn’t hit the ball, he was sent on his way.
Shadab was the most successful bowler with two wickets, while Ashraf, Yamin, Mohammad Amir and Rumman Raees claimed one wicket each.
Williamson was gutted to have lost, and said: “They were outstanding, so credit to them. They batted well, got a score that’s just about par, but the way they bowled was the difference. We know T20 is a fine line, and it was close-ish, but credit to them for doing well in all facets.
“We need to come into grounds, identify what we want to adapt on, all in all our bowling has improved, but with the bat it’s always a challenge with the run-rate going high in this format. Our fielding is something we pride ourselves on, and we do want to do better there ahead of the tri-series.”
Sarfraz was delighted to have won the series, and said: “Credit goes to my boys. It’s not easy coming back after 6-0. Just told the boys, ‘nothing to lose. We’re 6-0, worse case we’ll be 8-0’. Fakhar was great today, and the wickets in hand helped at the end. The way Haris, Amin batted was excellent. Being No. 1 in the world is all thanks to the hard work of my team and my team management. Thank you so much to the crowd for their support.”
Shadab was named Man of the Match, and said: “Thanks to Allah and my parents. I enjoy playing here. Got some experience at Big Bash, so good to use that here. Our top order didn’t score well in the ODIs, but they did well in the T20s, so maybe that’s the difference. I enjoyed my time in New Zealand. Time for the PSL now.”