New Zealand’s batting fails, as Pakistan successfully hunt down 135 in Sharjah.
Pakistan 135 for 5 (Rizwan 33, Asif 27*, Sodhi 2-29) beat New Zealand 134 for 8 (Mitchell 27, Rauf 4-22) by five wickets
Pakistan were in control of this game from the time Babar Azam won the toss and opted to bowl. Eleven of the 20 overs they sent down went for six runs or fewer. New Zealand tried their best to disrupt a bowling line-up in unbelievable form. They asked Daryl Mitchell to open the batting for the first time in his professional career. It didn’t work. They gambled on James Neesham at No. 4. That didn’t work either.
The pressure that kept piling on them certainly had an effect on their skipper. Kane Williamson, after nudging a back of a length ball into the off side, set off for a single that he normally wouldn’t risk. But here, with all run-making opportunities blocked, he took a few too many steps down the pitch and was dismissed by a Hasan Ali direct hit.
New Zealand were in the middle of a decent phase at the time. They whacked four fours and a six in nine balls. However, after that wicket in the 13th over, there were only three more boundaries.
Two of New Zealand’s strengths in these conditions are their fielding, and Ish Sodhi’s leg-spin. Those elements of their game allowed this match to take on the veneer of a contest.
Pakistan went into the last five overs needing 44 to win. In slow, low conditions, that’s usually a tough task unless someone goes crazy. Step forward Asif Ali. The No. 7 batsman launched the second and third balls of the 17th over clean out of the park, to set up a stunning victory for Pakistan!
Pakistan have played 13 T20Is in the UAE since 2016. They haven’t lost one of them! They must now be one of the favourites to lift the T20 World Cup! New Zealand take on India on Sunday, in a crunch game for both sides.