Pakistan beat New Zealand in captain Babar’s 100th T20
Babar Azam and Haris Rauf of Pakistan celebrate after the dismissal of James Neesham of New Zealand during the first twenty20 cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand, in Lahore, Pakistan on April 14, 2023. | Photo Credit: AP
Pakistan celebrated its all-format captain Babar Azam’s 100th Twenty20 with an 88-run win over a weak New Zealand in the first game of their five-match series on April 14.
Fast bowler Haris Rauf’s best figures topped Matt Henry’s earlier hat trick as New Zealand were bowled out for 94 with more than four overs to spare — losing the its last five wickets for six runs.
Rapidly improving young batsmen Saim Ayub and Fakhar Zaman made 47 runs each before New Zealand struck in the latter half of the innings on the back of Henry’s hat trick and got Pakistan bowled out for 182 in the final over.
“I still remember the journey of starting here as a ball-boy on the sidelines and now being here, it’s a great honor,” said Babar.
Pakistan got its full strength for the series against the Kiwis after losing to Afghanistan 2-1 in the United Arab Emirates in a series where four frontline players, including Rauf and Babar, were rested.
A depleted New Zealand side tours Pakistan for five T20s and five ODIs without eight of its frontline players, who are busy with the Indian Premier League.
“A lot of guys haven’t been here before and it’s about taking the lessons from this game and adapting quickly tomorrow,” New Zealand captain Tom Latham said. “We didn’t adapt too well to the conditions early … on top of that, the (Pakistan) score was slightly above par.”
New Zealand struck Adam Milne (2-51) early in the powerplay when the fast bowler trapped Mohammad Rizwan (8) leg before the wicket and Babar made an over ambitious shot on the offside against the pacer and was- bow out in 9 off 7 balls.
Left-handers Saim and Fakhar combined for an aggressive 79-run stand off 43 balls before Saim was run out as he failed to beat Chad Bowes’ direct throw from deep midwicket and his crease fell at the non-striker’s end. .
Fakhar also perished before the death over when he was caught in the deep trying to sweep leg-spinner Ish Sodhi as Pakistan slumped to 6-131.
Henry achieved a split hat trick when he caught Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed in the last two balls of his third over in his return spell. Henry then caught Shaheen Shah Afridi in the deep with a fantastic effort by Daryl Mitchell, who kept the ball back to Bowes in the field as it fell on the boundary line.
New Zealand’s inexperienced top-order was overwhelmed by Pakistan’s powerful attack with Mark Chapman leading the score with a chance of 34 but not before Rizwan missed a regulation stop early on his knock. .
Rauf ended the innings quickly by claiming three wickets in his return spell and left-arm spinner Imad Wasim also picked up two wickets off consecutive deliveries to give Pakistan an emphatic which starts the series.
Lahore will host two more T20s before Rawalpindi hosts the final two games of the series. The T20 series will be followed by five ODIs in Rawalpindi and Karachi.