Azam and Afridi help Pakistan down New Zealand to draw T20I series - GulfToday

Azam and Afridi help Pakistan down New Zealand to draw T20I series


Pakistan and New Zealand's players pose with the trophy after draw T20 series at the end of the final match at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore on Saturday night. AFP

 Skipper Babar Azam hit a solid half century while spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi grabbed four wickets as Pakistan overcame New Zealand by nine runs in the fifth and final Twenty20 international in Lahore on Saturday night.

Azam's 44-ball 69 and Fakhar Zaman's 33-ball 43 took Pakistan to 178-5 in their 20 overs before Shaheen claimed 4-30 to restrict New Zealand to 169 in 19.2 overs, squaring the series at 2-2.

But Pakistan's win only came in the final over with 12 needed as Josh Clarkson 38 not out threatened to pull off a heist, but two run outs in Mohammad Amir's over sealed the home win much to the delight of a full house at Gaddafi Stadium.

The first match of the series was abandoned while Pakistan clinched the second and New Zealand the third by identical seven-wicket margins — all in Rawalpindi. New Zealand took the fourth match, also in Lahore, by four runs.

The series gave both the teams a kickstart to their preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the United States and the West Indies in June.

While Pakistan would be disappointed not to have won a series against a depleted New Zealand side missing a host of players due to Indian Premier League, unavailability and injuries, the visitors got a boost from their bench strength.

Shaheen-vsNZ Shaheen Shah Afridi celebrates after taking the wicket of Tom Blundell (not pictured) on Saturday night. AFP

Shaheen gave Pakistan an ideal start by dismissing Tom Blundell for four in his first over — his 15th wicket in his opening over of a Twenty20 international — and 50th in all T20 matches.

Tim Seifert put New Zealand back on track with an aggressive 33-ball 52 — his ninth T20I half century containing seven boundaries and two sixes.

He added 76 for the second wicket with skipper Micheal Bracewell (23) but from 81-1 New Zealand lost four wickets in the space of 25 balls for the addition of just 22 runs.

Leg-spinner Usama Mir (2-21) had Seifert and Mark Chapman (12) while fellow spinner Shadab Khan accounted for Bracewell as New Zealand's chase was derailed. Shaheen returned for a second spell to dismiss James Neesham (16), Zak Foulkes (nought) and Ish Sodhi (three) in successive overs.

Babar-NZ-series Babar Azam plays a shot during the fifth T20 match  in Lahore. AFP

Azam said he used different combinations to test the squad strength ahead of the World Cup. "Look, throughout the series we tried different combinations and we wanted to see where our bench strength stands," said Azam.

"There are many good signs but we won't be complacent and will focus on improvement which is crucial in international cricket."

Bracewell was delighted that his team came out all-square.

"Pretty fair reflection of the series, pretty happy with coming over here and learning how to play in these conditions," said Bracewell who captained New Zealand for the first time. "Credit to Pakistan, they played really well today."

Shoaib-T20-trophy-2024 Former cricket star Shoaib Akhter holds the trophy of ICC Men's T20 World Cup 2024 during the trophy tour at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Lahore. AFP

Earlier, Azam saw his opening partner Saim Ayub fall in the second over for just one but that did not deter him as he added 73 for the second wicket with Usman Khan who made a brisk 24-ball 31.

Azam hit six boundaries and two sixes in his 34th T20I half-century before he was bowled by pacer Ben Sears in the 15th over.

Zaman hit four boundaries and a six before he was smartly caught by Chapman on the boundary off Foulkes as Pakistan managed 55 in the last five overs.

Shadab Khan hit a six and a four in his five-ball 15 not out. New Zealand made three changes as they brought back Seifert, Cole McConchie and Foulkes while pace spearhead Shaheen returned for the home team.


Pakistan: Saim Ayub, Babar Azam (captain), Usman Khan, Fakhar Zaman, Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Abbas Afridi, Usama Mir, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Mohammad Amir

New Zealand: Tom Blundell, Tim Seifert, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Michael Bracewell (captain), Cole McConchie, Josh Clarkson, Ish Sodhi, Zak Foulkes, Ben Sears, William O’Rourke.

Associated Press/ Agence France-Presse

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