In a remarkable turnaround, Pakistan found redemption in Christchurch, defending a modest total of 134 to claim victory over New Zealand by 42 runs in the final T20I. Despite facing adversity with four prior defeats on the challenging tour, Pakistan managed to conclude on a positive note and limit the series scoreline to 4-1.
Captain Shaheen Shah Afridi’s strategic insight at the toss proved pivotal, as he foresaw the significance of spin on the used Christchurch surface. This anticipation came to fruition, with Iftikhar Ahmed, Mohammad Nawaz, and Usama Mir combining forces to take six wickets, restricting New Zealand to a mere 92 runs – their second-lowest total on home soil.
While setting a target of 134 for 8 in their 20 overs, Pakistan’s batting display faced challenges on a two-paced track. Although Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman contributed 30s, the majority of the lineup encountered difficulties. New Zealand initiated their chase promisingly, but Pakistan’s spinners orchestrated a collapse in the middle overs. Iftikhar led with an impressive 3 for 24, while Nawaz and Mir secured economical two-wicket hauls each, ultimately bowling out New Zealand in 17.2 overs.
Here’s a table summarizing the key details of the match between Pakistan and New Zealand:
|Christchurch, [Insert Date]
|Pakistan won by 42 runs
|Pakistan 1, New Zealand 4
|Man of the Match
New Zealand faced challenges right from the beginning
New Zealand’s struggle began early on, with Finn Allen showing early promise by striking boundaries off Afridi and Nawaz. However, Rachin Ravindra, stepping in for Daryl Mitchell, failed to make an impact, succumbing to Nawaz after scoring just 1. Despite Allen’s brief flourish with two more fours, his dismissal by Zaman Khan marked a turning point, with debutant Haseebullah Khan making a crucial catch at mid-on. The powerplay concluded with New Zealand at 35 for 2, setting the stage for Pakistan’s spinners to dominate the proceedings.
Pakistan employs a strategy focused on spin domination
Pakistan unleashed a formidable spin onslaught when it became evident that the playing surface favored spin bowlers. Afridi spearheaded an aggressive spin strategy as the required run rate escalated. Facing the challenge, Will Young attempted to disrupt the spin dominance by opting for a slog sweep against Nawaz. Unfortunately, his effort only found Iftikhar at deep backward square leg, who secured the catch on the second try.
Mark Chapman experienced a day of escalating misfortune. Having dropped Babar Azam twice in the initial innings, he suffered a run-out for just 1 run. Iftikhar further intensified New Zealand’s woes by dismissing Tim Seifert, who fell victim to a reverse sweep attempt. The collapse continued as Mir claimed Mitchell Santner with a caught-and-bowled, and Iftikhar sent Matt Henry and Ish Sodhi packing in the same over. New Zealand plummeted from 53 for 2 to a dismal 72 for 8 within a span of 32 balls.
Despite Glenn Phillips’ valiant efforts to salvage the situation, the task proved insurmountable with eight wickets down. Afridi sealed the victory for Pakistan with two consecutive wickets in as many balls, securing the win with 2.4 overs to spare.
A forgettable powerplay experience for Pakistan
While Haseebullah Khan enjoyed a stellar debut season in the 2023 PSL, marked by a blistering 29-ball 50 against Karachi Kings, his T20I debut was a stark contrast. Lasting only three balls, he succumbed to an ungainly swipe, resulting in a leading edge to point. Pakistan faced a challenging start, taking 11 balls to initiate their innings and securing their first boundary in the fourth over through Rizwan. Babar struggled, managing only 4 runs off 15 deliveries in the powerplay, with Pakistan crawling to a score of 29 for 1 after six overs.
A short-lived recovery followed by yet another collapse in the middle-order
A brief resurgence followed by a middle-order collapse unfolded in the match. Sodhi brought an end to Babar’s struggle with a 24-ball 13, as he mistimed a tossed-up wrong’un, finding Phillips at deep midwicket.
At the 10-over mark, Pakistan stood at 53 for 2, seeking momentum to propel their innings forward. Fakhar stepped up to the challenge, unleashing an onslaught on Lockie Ferguson with two powerful sixes, followed by a boundary and another six off Sodhi in the subsequent over. Southee returned to the attack, conceding yet another six to Fakhar, but the bowler had the last word. Fakhar, unable to read a slower off cutter, mistimed his shot, sending the ball to long-off and departing after a brisk 16-ball 33.
Nawaz had a brief stint before Henry dismissed Rizwan for a run-a-ball 38, his attempted swing falling short and landing in the hands of deep square leg. Iftikhar then struck one straight to mid-off as Pakistan stumbled, losing 4 wickets for 16 runs in 22 balls.
Entering at No. 9, Abbas Afridi added impetus with two well-timed sixes, pushing Pakistan past the 130-run mark. Southee, Henry, Ferguson, and Sodhi each secured two wickets for New Zealand in a collective bowling effort.