Iftikhar, Nawaz inspire consolation win as New Zealand fold for 92

Pakistan 134 for 8 (Rizwan 38, Fakhar 33, Southee 2-19, Sodhi 2-22) beat New Zealand 92 (Phillips 26, Allen 22, Iftikhar 3-24, Nawaz 2-18) by 42 runs

After four crushing losses, Pakistan had something to smile about at the end of a tough tour as they defended 134 to take the final T20I against New Zealand by 42 runs and keep the series scoreline to 4-1.

Batting first, Mohammad Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman got 30s but most of the Pakistan batters suffered on a two-paced track to reach 134 for 8 in their 20 overs. New Zealand started the chase brightly but the Pakistan spinners orchestrated a middle-overs collapse. Iftikhar led the way with 3-24, while Nawaz and Mir picked up frugal two-fors as New Zealand were bowled out in 17.2 overs.

New Zealand struggle from the get-go

New Zealand would have been delighted to keep Pakistan to 134 but their joy was short-lived. Finn Allen started brightly, smashing Shaheen for a four around deep midwicket and then going one better against Nawaz in the same region. But, Rachin Ravindra, slotted into this game for Daryl Mitchell failed to get going as he sliced Nawaz to short third for 1.

Allen struck two more crisp fours off Shaheen before falling to Zaman Khan, his miscued attempt taken well by debutant Haseebullah Khan diving forward at mid-on. The New Zealand powerplay ended on 35 for 2.

Pakistan apply the spin choke

Once it got clear that the surface was aiding spin, Shaheen went on an all-out spin squeeze. With the required rate climbing, Will Young tried to break the shackles by looking to slog sweep Nawaz. His attempt only reached as far as Iftikhar at deep backward square leg, who completed the catch on the second attempt.

The day went from bad to worse for Mark Chapman, who dropped Babar Azam twice, when he was run out for 1 before Tim Seifert’s difficult innings was ended by Iftikhar on 19 off 30. He went for a reverse sweep to a straight ball, missed and was trapped right in front, with Pakistan’s review confirming the ball would have smashed into the middle pole.

Mir then had Mitchell Santner caught and bowled while Iftikhar removed Matt Henry and Ish Sodhi in the same over as New Zealand collapsed from 53 for 2 to 72 for 8 in the space of 32 balls.

Glenn Phillips tried his best to take New Zealand closer but with eight wickets down, it was a bridge too far even for the man in form. Shaheen finished off the game with two wickets in two balls as Pakistan won with 2.4 overs to spare.

A powerplay to forget for Pakistan

Haseebullah Khan had a dream PSL debut last season against Karachi Kings where he walloped a 29-ball 50. The same can’t be said about his T20I debut, which lasted all of three balls and ended with him advancing and getting a leading edge on an ungainly swipe to point. Pakistan took 11 balls to get their innings rolling and got their first boundary in the fourth over, courtesy Rizwan, but Babar struggled big time. He was dropped on 1 by Chapman at deep square leg and could only manage 4 off 15 in the powerplay as Pakistan crawled to 29 for 1 after the six overs.

A brief revival and another middle-order collapse

Babar was put down again by Chapman, this time at long-off before Sodhi put him out of his misery for a 24-ball 13. An innings that Babar will want to forget rather quickly ended with him slogging a tossed-up wrong’un straight to Phillips at deep midwicket. A relieved Chapman was the first to get across and give Phillips a big hug.

With Pakistan 53 for 2 after ten they needed some impetus to get the innings flowing. That was provided by Fakhar. He laid into Lockie Ferguson, tonking him for two sixes before crashing Sodhi for a four and a six the next over. Southee returned and was taken for another six by Fakhar, but the bowler had the last laugh. The left-handed batter failed to pick a slower offcutter and could only mistime his heave to long-off to fall for a 16-ball 33.

Nawaz came and went before Henry sent Rizwan packing for a run-ball-38, his swing across the line only travelling as far as deep square leg. Iftikhar then clubbed Henry straight to mid-off as Pakistan lost 4 for 16 in 22 balls.

Abbas Afridi came in at No. 9 and hammered two sixes to take Pakistan past the 130-mark. For New Zealand, Southee, Henry, Ferguson and Sodhi all managed two wickets apiece.

Ashish Pant is a sub-editor with ESPNcricinfo

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