Pakistan overcome nerves to make it two in two

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safari
26 Oct 2021 | 06:54 PM
authorcricket.com staff

Pakistan overcome nerves to make it two in two

The middle-overs hinted at the same old story for Pakistan but Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali stepped up to clinch a win with an over to spare

After thumping India, Pakistan overcame their nerves during the middle-overs of a tesne run-chase to defeat New Zealand by five wickets in Match 19 of the 2021 T20 World Cup. Haris Rauf took a career best 4/22, playing a pivotal role in Pakistan's second successive win in their campaign.

Boosted by their brilliant performance in the 10-wicket rout of arch-rivals India on Sunday, Rauf inspired the 2009 champions to victory in front of a boisterous Sharjah crowd mainly comprised of Pakistani expats.

Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell both scored 27 for New Zealand, while skipper Kane Williamson made a laborious 25 off 26 balls as New Zealand were held to a par score of 134-8. Veteran Shoaib Malik (27) and Asif Ali (26) came together with Pakistan wobbling at 87-5 and led the team to their target in 18.4 overs.

Pakistan had lost skipper Babar Azam to Tim Southee - bowled for nine in the sixth over - as the paceman took his 100th wicket in his 84th T20 international. He is only the third bowler behind Bangladesh's Shakib Al Hasan (117 in 92 T20Is) and the Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga (107 in 84) to take 100 or more wickets in the format.

Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi trapped both Fakhar Zaman (11) and Mohammad Rizwan leg-before to reduce Pakistan to 69-4. In between those two dismissals, Conway produced a brilliant diving catch at wide long-off to dismiss Mohammad Hafeez as he attempted to lift the spinner Mitchell Santner over extra cover. When Imad Wasim fell for 11, Pakistan still needed 47 off 31 deliveries.

It was left to Asif - maligned for his continuous failures - to hit two sixes off Southee in the 17th over to bring down the target to 24 off the last three. Malik reduced that to 9 in two overs by hitting a four and a six off Santner, the first time he took the attack to the bowlers. Asif then smacked Trent Boult for six before hitting the winning runs.

Rauf and Shaheen run rout

It was Rauf who did much of the damage with the ball against New Zealand - sent into bat on a sluggish pitch - improving on his previous best of 3-29, also against the same opponents last year. 

"It's always good to win, we'll take this confidence forward. The way the bowlers, Shaheen and Haris Rauf especially bowled was very impressive," said Pakistan skipper, Babar Azam, praising his bowlers. 

Williamson deemed the loss disappointing given the chance his team possessed.

"It's very disappointing at the end," he said. "Unfortunately we couldn't nail things towards the back end but we were up against a very good side."

Pakistan applied the pressure right from the start as left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi bowled a maiden first over.

New Zealand reached 36 without loss when Rauf bowled Martin Guptill off his pads for 17. He also accounted for Conway and Glenn Phillips (13) in one over, crippling New Zealand's tempo at a crucial stage. There were no boundaries in overs 14 to 16.

Rauf also dismissed Santner (6) with the last ball of the final over. Shaheen finished with 1-21 while spinners Hafeez and Imad also took a wicket each.

Pakistan kept the same team that beat India. New Zealand - playing their first game in the Super 12s - were jolted before the start of the match when fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury.

Pakistan next play Afghanistan in Dubai on Friday while New Zealand face India, also in Dubai, on Sunday.

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Pakistan vs New ZealandICC World Twenty20, 2021PakistanNew ZealandHaris RaufShaheen AfridiIsh SodhiKane WilliamsonBabar AzamShoaib MalikAsif Ali

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