Pakistan ended New Zealand’s winning streak in home matches this season at 13 games by winning the second Twenty20 international on Thursday by 48 runs at Eden Park. New Zealand won two Tests, two one-day internationals and three Twenty20 internationals against the West Indies, then blanked Pakistan 5-0 in a one-day international series before winning the first match of the three-match T20 series against Pakistan by seven wickets. But Pakistan made 201-4 after winning the toss on Thursday, with half centuries by Fakhar Zaman and Babar Azam, and 44 by Ahmed Shehzad and 41 by captain Sarfraz Ahmed.
New Zealand then crumbled to 64-6 in 8.2 overs as Pakistan produced an outstanding batting and fielding performance as it tries to reach the top ranking in Twenty20 cricket by winning the last two matches of the series.
Throughout the streak there has been a feeling New Zealand’s performances have been inflated by the weakness of its opposition. Pakistan has failed to play up to its high ranking in limited overs cricket but managed finally to do so Thursday on a sound pitch and with the help of the the short boundaries at Eden Park.
Pakistan’s top order had previously failed throughout the ODI and T20 series but clicked on Thursday when it worked from a strong foundation. During the one-day series it was variously 54-5, 39-3, 16-6, 11-2 and 57-5. In the first T20 it was 38-6 before being bowled out for 105 on its way to a seven-wicket loss.
On Thursday, Pakistan got off to a strong start and didn’t look back. Fakhar and Shehzad made 94 in an opening partnership which occupied the first 10 overs and set up the innings.
Shehzad was the first man out for 44 after hitting six fours and one six from 34 balls. Fakhar went on to a maiden Twenty20 half century from 26 balls with three sixes and five fours.
After losing Fakhar shortly after Shehzad, Babar and Sarfraz combined in a rapid 91-run partnership for the third wicket, which kept pressure on New Zealand.
Babar hit 50 from 29 balls with five fours and a six, finishing not out on that score, and Sarfraz made 41 from 24 balls with two fours and three sixes.
“I said at the toss that we had nothing to lose so that’s why we decided to bat first,” Sarfraz said. “We thought 170 was about a par but thought we could do better if we batted well in the first six overs. Fortunately, Fahkhar and Shehzad, then Babar Azam, batted very well and that’s why we scored 200.”
While Martin Guptill made an assertive start, scoring 24 in a 25-run partnership with Colin Munro, New Zealand were in trouble when Munro (1) was trapped lbw by Mohammad Amir. Captain Kane Williamson was out soon afterwards without scoring and Tom Bruce and Guptill quickly followed, leaving New Zealand 52-4.
Haris Sohail played a major role for Pakistan, taking catches to dismiss Williamson and Phillips (5) and effecting the run out of Bruce (11).
When Sarfraz stumped Colin de Grandhomme (10) from the bowling of Shadab Kahn, New Zealand were 64-6 and Pakistan were coasting to victory.
Mitchell Santner (37) and Ben Wheeler (30) tried to rally the Black Caps but the required run rate became increasingly onerous and New Zealand lost its final wicket to the second ball of the 19th over.
“Pakistan were excellent tonight in all departments and we weren’t that good in any department,” Williamson said. “I suppose when you catch Pakistan like than on such a great day when they put us under a lot of pressure and we don’t play our best cricket then you get the result that we got.
“Even with four overs to go, though we didn’t bat that well, I thought we still had a chance so there is a lot of belief in the camp, just a pity it didn’t come off tonight. Tonight we just bowled too many bad balls and Pakistan played well and hit them all to the fence.”