Pakistan vs New Zealand 1st T20I: Bowlers win it for the hosts.

T20I series gets off to a flyer as Pakistan outnumbered New Zealand by two runs despite top knocks from Munro and Taylor.

MOUNT MAUNGANUI, NEW ZEALAND - JANUARY 28: Sarfraz Ahmed of Pakistan celebrates after winning game three of the International Twenty20 match between New Zealand and Pakistan at Bay Oval on January 28, 2018 in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

An excellent performance from the Pakistani bowlers helped them win the first T20I of the three-match series against New Zealand at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi.

Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and decided to bat first. New Zealand were playing an international match after a gap of almost seven months. Pakistan, on the other hand, were brimming with confidence after clean sweeping the T20I series against the Aussies.

Adam Milne got the Kiwis to a great start. He dismissed the in-form Babar Azam in the third over of the innings. Ajaz Patel, who was making his debut for the visitors, picked up Sahibzada Farhan in the fourth over for a solitary run to reduce Pakistan to 10-2. Asif Ali and Mohammad Hafeez looked to consolidate the innings from thereafter. The two batsmen were slow at the initial stages but soon started playing aggressively. They added 67 runs for the third wicket before an excellent catch from Tim Southee at point removed Hafeez for 45 runs.

A low diving catch from Glenn Phillips was enough to send Ali back to the pavilion. Captain Sarfraz Khan kept the Pakistani innings moving. He hit three fours and two sixes in his innings of 34 runs. Two brilliant pieces of fielding from Corey Anderson in the 18th over bestowed NZ with the wickets of Sarfraz and Shoaib Malik. Imad Wasim hit a four and a six on the two last deliveries of the innings to help Pakistan put on a respectable total of 148 for the loss of 6 wickets in their quota of 20 overs.

The bowling from the hosts, especially from Imad Wasim had been top notch against Australia. The bowlers again bowled great lines to force the Kiwis to a slow start in the first 3 overs. But Colin Munro was finally successful in breaking the shackles. He first smashed Faheem Ashraf for a four and a six in the 4th over and then reverse swept Wasim for a couple of boundaries. Hasan Ali was successful in the breaking the 50 run partnership in the sixth over when he cleaned up Glenn Phillips. Tight line and length bowling from Hafeez and Shadab Khan checked the run flow for Sarfraz’s side. Munro’s exciting innings of 58 came to an end when he mistimed Shadab Khan’s delivery to the hands of Asif Ali. The pressure got the better of Kane Williamson who handed Imad Wasim an easy catch to lose his wicket.

The run chase for the visitors went from bad to worse when Colin De Grandhomme was run out in the 14th over with still 60 runs needed for the win. Ross Taylor was almost fighting a lone battle for the chasing team. Corey Anderson failed miserably as he could only muster 9 runs from 12 deliveries. Shaheen Afridi was handed the last over as the Kiwis required 17 runs to win the match. Afridi conceded 10 runs in his first 5 deliveries. With a six required to tie the match, Taylor could only manage a four as Pakistan clinched the match by 2 runs.

The bowlers did the job again for Pakistan. They have now won four consecutive T20Is defending in the bracket of 145-155 runs. It’s a disappointment for the Kiwis. They had the match in their clutches for a long time. But untimely choking at the back end didn’t help their cause. The next match is on 2nd November at the same stadium.

Match Summary:

Pakistan: 148-6(20 o.)
Mohammad Hafeez: 45(36)
Sarfraz Ahmed: 34(26)
Adam Milne: 4-0-28-2.

New Zealand: 146-6(20 o.)
Colin Munro: 58(42)
Ross Taylor: 42(26)
Hasan Ali: 4-0-35-3.

Man of The Match: Mohammad Hafeez.