HomeSports NewsRecent Match Report - Pakistan vs New Zealand 5th T20I 2023

Recent Match Report – Pakistan vs New Zealand 5th T20I 2023

New Zealand 194 for 4 (Chapman 104*, Neesham 45*, Imad 2-21) beat Pakistan 193 for 5 (Rizwan 98*, Tickner 3-33) by six wickets

Mark Chapman had been threatening to do this all series, and with the stakes at their highest, he went out and did it. A breathtaking display of magnificently clean hitting against some of the best bowlers in T20 cricket saw the 28-year-old score an unbeaten 57-ball 104, chasing down 194 to mount a comeback for the ages to stun Pakistan. It is the second-highest total ever chased against Pakistan in T20s, and also means New Zealand finish the series level despite trailing 2-0 after two games. It is also New Zealand’s 100th T20I win, one that will take pride of place in New Zealand T20 folklore.

Few would have given them hope of achieving this when they rocked up in Pakistan from halfway across the world and had just one practice session under their belt when the series began. The task was made even stiffer by the depleted nature of their side, with eight first-team players missing owing to IPL duty. Even on the day, victory looked particularly improbable when Imad Wasim struck to remove Daryl Mitchell, leaving New Zealand tottering at 73 for 4 at the halfway mark.

Chapman and Neesham turn tables

But Pakistan hadn’t yet accounted for Chapman, and in a series he finished with 290 runs having been dismissed just once, that made the world of difference. He smashed Faheem Ashraf for 14 in the 11th over to fire a shot against Pakistan’s bow, warning them the game – and series – wasn’t done yet. It was a warning they would have done well to heed, but were rendered powerless against Chapman’s onslaught. With James Neesham‘s unbeaten 45 off 25 a more-than-able supporting act, Chapman took apart each Pakistan bowler, quick and slow, right-arm and left-arm.

The next five overs saw 71 runs scored, and New Zealand had turned the contest on its head. By now, Chapman was nearing his hundred, but continued to attack. There was some luck against Shaheen Shah Afridi; Shadab Khan dropped an easy catch before Afridi dropped him off his own bowling on 98. That sloppiness allowed him to race back for two, and complete the 100 he so richly deserved.

By now, it was a run-a-ball equation for the last two overs, and for Chapman in this form, it was a cakewalk. A little nudge into the on side sealed the deal with four balls to go, giving Pakistan a reality check – and a bloody nose – before the five-match ODI series begins later this week.

The triple-strike

Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan might have got Pakistan off to a great start, but much like New Zealand have done in almost every match this series, the bowlers hit back strongly once more. An off-colour Babar was the first to fall, in the final over of the powerplay, as he miscued an on-side slog. Mohammad Haris came in with two balls left of the powerplay and was eager to make up for lost time, only to misread an offcutter from Blair Tickner and attempt to lap over short fine leg off his first delivery. Ish Sodhi took a comfortable catch before coming on and dispatching of Saim Ayub with a wrong’un for another duck. Pakistan had suddenly lost three wickets for one run in five balls, and a good Pakistani start had been laid to waste.

Rizwan’s 98* – and Pakistan’s weird slowdown

It’s perhaps churlish to nitpick a T20 hundred, but there’s no way to avoid it. Rizwan has been a run machine for Pakistan in T20Is since 2021, as well as one of their most potent matchwinners over the years. Despite a relatively lean run by his high standards, he began with the truculence befitting the format, hurtling along even as Babar struggled and wickets tumbled at the other end. He provided the start, he held the innings through the middle, and arguably merited the century at the end.

But T20 centurions are like presidents – if you really want to be one – you probably don’t deserve it. Had Pakistan continued to attack the death overs like any side maximising their run-scoring potential should, Rizwan’s hundred might have come organically. Instead, he opted for relative caution, and the final few balls were almost wholly geared towards getting Rizwan those final few runs rather than giving Pakistan every extra run they could scrape.

Imad was run out trying to scrape a bye, even though he was the batter in better striking form, and because that didn’t get Rizwan on strike, Faheem Ashraf took just the single rather than the two that was on off the penultimate ball. Rizwan didn’t get to three figures anyway, but that had more to do with him scoring just one boundary off his final 13 balls.

Chapman, by contrast, barely seemed to register what score he was on when batting on 98. Afridi had just one ball left, and could have been milked for a single or seen off. Yet, the batter tried a high-risk jab into the on side only to see the ball fly straight up. The century didn’t matter, and yet Chapman got it – and his side the win – anyway.

Shaheen Afridi’s first over

Ahh, how we’ve missed this. Afridi didn’t have a first-over wicket to his name all series, but on Monday in Rawalpindi, it was as if that most captivating ability had never been away. It began with a first-ball wicket – not quite the inswinger tearing through a right-hand batter’s defences, but one that moved away from left-hand batter Tom Latham, who spliced it tamely to Shadab at point. A few testing inswinging deliveries to Will Young set him for the one that angled away, kissing the outside edge and carrying through to Rizwan. New Zealand were two down in an over, and Afridi was back, but only to see a remarkable comeback from New Zealand’s Nos. 5 and 6.

Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000

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