Mark Chapman hit a maiden unbeaten hundred to anchor New Zealand's six-wicket win over Pakistan in the fifth and final T20 International (T20I) in Rawalpindi on Monday (April 24), ending the five-match series level at 2-2. The 28-year-old smashed a 57-ball 104 in a rearguard action to lift New Zealand from a precarious 73 for 4 to chase down a stiff target of 194 with four balls to spare.
"We are very happy with how we levelled the series tonight and finished the job," said Chapman. "It took a bit of adjusting in the first two games and it's great to see that it worked out well."
Mohammad Rizwan missed a century by two runs, but still guided Pakistan to a solid 193 for 5 in their 20 overs. Chapman led the fightback with a match-turning unbroken fifth wicket stand of 121 off 58 balls with James Neesham, who scored a punishing 25-ball 45 not out as the duo toyed with Pakistan's much-vaunted bowling attack.
"I was pretty thankful that Jimmy came out all-guns-blazing and took some pressure off me as well," Chapman said.
Chapman, whose previous highest T20I score was 83 against Scotland at Edinburgh last year, completed his century off 54 balls with a brace off Shaheen Shah Afridi, waving his bat to an applauding dressing room.
In all Chapman hit 11 fours and four sixes while Neesham's knock was studded with two sixes and four fours as the pair combined to help give New Zealand their 100th T20I win in 192 matches. Shaheen had given Pakistan a superb start with the wicket of Tim Latham off the first ball on the innings and Will Young (four) off the fifth.
Chapman's player-of-the-series performance in T20Is has also seen him earn a place in the ODI squad. The five-match ODI series will get underway on Thursday (April 27) with the first game set to be played in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan won the first T20I by 88 runs and the second by 38 while New Zealand took the third by four, all in Lahore. The fourth match was abandoned due to a hailstorm in Rawalpindi.
The victory and a 2-2 result is welcoming for New Zealand who were missing their top eight players including regular skipper Kane Williamson due to the ongoing Indian Premier League.
Pakistan skipper Babar Azam was disappointed with the result. "I think we were 10-15 runs short after Rizwan revived the innings for us through the middle phases," said Azam. "Congrats to Chapman, he played a special knock and took the game away from us."
Pakistan's innings was fashioned around Rizwan's brilliant knock after they were sent in to bat by New Zealand. The 30-year-old batter struck a 62-ball unbeaten 98 as he missed the last delivery of the innings and with it his second T20I hundred.
Rizwan, who struck four sixes and seven fours, added 71 for the fourth wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed (36) and another 68 for the fifth with Imad Wasim who made 31. Pakistan raced to 51 in the sixth over when pacer Blair Tickner removed Azam for 19 and Mohammad Haris off successive deliveries to derail a good start.
Ahmed hit two sixes and three boundaries off 22 balls while Wasim's 14-ball knock had five boundaries and a six. For New Zealand Tickner was the best bowler with 3 for 33.
Pakistan 193 for 4 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 98*, Iftikhar Ahmed 36; Blair TIckner 3 for 33) lost to New Zealand (Mark Chapman 104*, James Neesham 45*; Imad Wasim 2 for 21) by 6 wickets.
Player of the match: Mark Chapman
Player of the series: Mark Chapman