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
Chapman and Neesham turn tables
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.
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