Fakhar zaman

Fakhar Zaman, Babar Azam shine as Pakistan set up T20 decider against New Zealand

Pakistan have halted the Black Caps’ winning run at 13, and set up a Twenty20 series decider in Mount Maunganui on Sunday.

They won by 48 runs at Eden Park on Thursday night, grabbing control of the game early on with the bat and never letting go.

Having lost six from six so far on tour, they looked a different team as they posted 201-4 after winning the toss and batting.

That total was always going to be hard to haul in, even with the Auckland ground’s small boundaries, but the Black Caps didn’t even give themselves a chance, and were all out for 153 in the 19th over.

Opener Colin Munro was starved of the strike early, and was out lbw for one to the second ball he faced, in the third over, bowled by Mohammad Amir.

He was followed shortly thereafter by Kane Williamson, who chipped a catch to midwicket first ball off Rumman Raees, where Haris Sohail took it with a superb diving effort.

Tom Bruce came and went for 11 off eight, run out by a direct hit, and as the power play ended the Black Caps were 49-3 – slightly behind the asking rate of 10 an over.

Martin Guptill was providing the lone innings of substance, but was still only scoring at a run a ball, and Shadab Khan the legspinner got him to offer up a catch in the seventh over, when he was on 26.

The asking rate had risen to nearly 12 at that point, and it only grew as Glenn Phillips went softly for five, followed by de Grandhomme for 10, leaving the Black Caps 64-6.

Mitchell Santner made 37 off 28 and Ben Wheeler 30 off 20, while also hitting the most impressive six of the night, straight down the ground off Amir. They shared in a 54-run stand, but when Wheeler was bowled in the 15th over, any hope faded.

Pakistan opener Ahmed Shehzad was a surprise omission in the first match, but combined with Fakhar Zaman for a stand of 94, before he was caught at long on off the bowling of Seth Rance at the end of the 10th over, for 44 off 34.

Fakhar was the more destructive of the two. He smashed three sixes in Santner’s first over, which went for 22, and brought up his 26-ball half century off Rance with a pull for a single just before Shehzad’s dismissal.

He was sent on his way three balls after Shehzad, mistiming a shot off de Grandhomme and giving Ish Sodhi a catch at fine leg.

That left Babar Azam and Sarfraz Ahmed to start anew. They added 42 between overs 10 and 15, setting themselves up nicely for a final flourish.

Their 50-run partnership came up in the 16th over, where they took 13 off Trent Boult, who had gone for seven off his first two, and they then ruined Sodhi’s day, taking him for 15 in his final over, when he’d only conceded 14 off his first three.

Babar finished not out on 50 off 29 balls, while Sarfraz made 41 off 24 before he was caught skying one in the penultimate over. He should have been out the over before, for 34, but Santner lost the ball in the floodlights and spilt a regulation chance at midwicket.

Set 202 to win, the Black Caps were always going to be up against it, but would have wanted to make a better fist of it.

Sodhi was their most economical bowler, going for 32 off his four overs, while Wheeler picked up 2-36 from his four.

Prior to this match, teams had chased down targets of 202 or more six times out of 42 in the 13-year history of international T20 cricket.


Pakistan 201-4 (Babar Azam 50no off 29, Fakhar Zaman 50 off 28, Ahmad Shehzad 44 off 34; Ben Wheeler 2-36 off 4) beat the Black Caps 153 all out (Mitchell Santner 37 off 28, Wheeler 30 off 20, Martin Guptill 26 off 27; Faheem Ashraf 3-22, Mohammad Amir 2-28 off 4, Shadab Khan 2-37 off 4) by 48 runs.