Pakistan 182 (Ayub 47, Fakhar 47, Henry 3-32, Lister 2-30) beat New Zealand 94 (Chapman 34, Latham 20, Rauf 4-18, Imad 2-2) by 88 runs
New Zealand’s lower order batting experience and Pakistan’s irresistible bowling class meant it was a mismatch. The end came rather quickly, with the last five wickets falling for six runs.
Fakhar, Ayub light up Lahore
There are few line-ups that wouldn’t be enriched by having Ayub and Fakhar opening the batting in a T20, but with Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan back, they each dropped down a position. However, Adam Milne‘s pace posed all sorts of problems even for a duo of that class, and within the first five overs, the New Zealand quick had cleaned up both Pakistan’s captain and wicketkeeper.
The powerplay was almost done, but that did not stymie Fakhar and Ayub’s belligerence. A pair of fours by Ayub in the sixth over set the tone. Three fours in the ninth over that took Jimmy Neesham apart saw the momentum shift, but it was the following two overs that saw New Zealand lose complete control. Sodhi had leaked just two runs in his first over, but Fakhar and Ayub smashed a six each in his second, before Milne, the best bowler up until that point, received the same treatment in the next. The duo hammered 46 runs between overs nine to 11, and Pakistan were well on track.
Henry scores a hat-trick as New Zealand hit back
If there’s a smidge of comfort New Zealand can draw from this contest, it’s the possibility of Pakistan’s lower middle order having a weak underbelly. With most of the batters natural top order players, New Zealand began to chip away menacingly. Matt Henry returned to dispatch Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed off successive deliveries putting him on a hat-trick, while Sodhi removed Fakhar at the other end. Four wickets fell for 22 runs, and the visitors sniffed an opportunity to skittle Pakistan out.
It was squandered, however, and a cameo from Imad Wasim and Faheem Ashraf dug Pakistan out of trouble, and a pair of boundaries from Rauf helped Pakistan get past 180. There was consolation for New Zealand, though, as Matt Henry returned for the final over and struck with his first ball thanks to a superb boundary catch. It gave him a hat-trick, and helped bowl Pakistan out within the allotted 20 overs.
Pakistan hurt New Zealand with pace
Zaman, Afridi and Rauf are a feared attack for any line-up on any pitch, and they were too hot to handle for New Zealand. In pursuit of 183, they were never able to keep up with the run rate or, indeed conserve enough wickets to hold out any hopes of taking the game deep. It took Zaman just three deliveries to strike, squaring Chad Bowes up, before Afridi cleaned Will Young up with a classical inswinger, the batter’s loose stroke no match for the ball.
It gave Pakistan enough breathing room not to worry when a pair of counterattacking innings from Neesham and Mark Chapman helped restore some scoreboard respectability. The impression that Pakistan could finish off the game almost whenever they chose was distinct, and it perhaps showed in the manner the game hurtled towards its conclusion. Once Neesham holed out to Rauf, New Zealand collapsed in a heap. Imad dismissed Milne and Henry before Rauf returned to knock back Ben Lister’s stumps, giving him figures of 4 for 18 – his career-best numbers in T20Is.