Mohammad Hafeez rose to the challenge when it was needed most as he clattered a match winning 34no off just 21 balls to steer Pakistan to a series winning 2-0 lead over New Zealand in the second T20I played in Dubai on Friday night.
The game was evenly poised with New Zealand posting a demanding 153-7 off their 20 overs but 40 (off 41 balls) at the top of the order from Babar Azam, coupled with 38 (off 31) from Asif Ali put Pakistan in a position where Hafeez could capitalize, carrying them to a six wicket victory with two balls remaining.
Earlier New Zealand’s total was built on the foundation of a sparkling 44 (off 28 balls) from opener Colin Munro, which was carried on by skipper Kane Williamson with 37 (off 34) and completed by some late hitting by Corey Anderson (44 off 25).
Best for the ball with Pakistan was Shaheen Shah Afridi who took three wickets for 20 off four overs, restricting the Black Caps with some tight bowling at the death.
Here’s our report card:
The Professor seals the deal!— ICC (@ICC) November 2, 2018
Cool as a cucumber, Mohammad Hafeez strikes 34 off 21 to secure the series with six wickets and two balls to spare!
Another nail-biting game, and yet another win for Pakistan.#PAKvNZ SCORE ⬇https://t.co/FcV1C6AyH5 pic.twitter.com/3vZe0m8ZeQ
Hafeez the hero – With the game delicately poised with just four overs remaining and 40 runs still to get, Pakistan needed one of their batsmen to stand up and be the difference. That batsmen was Mohammad Hafeez, hitting Ish Sodhi for two sixes in three balls in the 17th over to put NZ on the back foot. He then completed the job in the final over with a two and a four as he finished with a match winning 34no off just 21 balls.
Magnificent Munro – The Kiwi opener took it to the Pakistan bowlers like no Aussie batsman managed. From the very first ball, when he delightfully lofted Imad Wasim for six over mid-wicket, Munro hit the ball cleanly and sweetly, compiling 44 off just 28 balls including four fours and two maximums. He will have been disappointed to get out when a big score beckoned.
Hafeez the villain – Colin Munro had been carting the Pakistan attack all around the park so the fielding team would have been delighted to see him sky one off Faheem Ashraf to long on. But Mohammad Hafeez made a complete hash of it, mis-judging it completely then having to fling himself full length at the last moment, grassing the ball when his elbows hit the ground. Catching is one area where the impressive Pakistan team can definitely improve.
Colin’s catching not Grand – The match was evenly poised with Pakistan on 75-1 when Asif Ali top-edged a pull off Ish Sodhi, but Colin de Grandhomme slipped as he tried to get under the ball at long-on with the ball cannoning off his chest. Babar Azam almost ran himself out the next ball but just got back in his ground. Two huge let offs for the hosts at a crucial point of the match.
11th consecutive series win in T20Is (World Record). 11th consecutive win in T20Is while chasing (World Record). 16 wins in a year (World Record). Pakistan number one T20 team for a reason! #BRILLIANT— Mazher Arshad (@MazherArshad) November 2, 2018
6.6 OVERS: Colin Munro stumped – The powerful opener ventured down the track once too often off Mohammad Hafeez, edged it on to his pad and then couldn’t get back in his ground before Sarfraz had collected the ball and whipped off the bails. The danger man gone for 44.
17.1 OVERS: Kane Williamson out – Corey Anderson and Williamson were on-fire knocking up a quick-fire partnership of 42 off just 27 balls, including 14 off the last three balls of Hasan Ali’s preceding over. But off the first ball of Shaheen Shah Afridi’s next over the NZ skipper clipped a half-volley straight to Fakhar Zaman at deep backward square leg. It broke a threatening partnership and probably kept NZ under 170.
4.4 OVERS: Williamson flies through the air with the greatest of ease – Pakistan were off to a flyer when the Kiwi captain flew through the air at mid-off and plucked a one handed catch inches from the ground off Adam Milne to dismiss Fakhar Zaman. No celebrations at all from captain Kane. He just tossed the ball away nonchalantly, like swatting flies.
12.6 OVERS Southee stalls Azam – No one is more capable of taking a game away from an opponent like the world’s No1 T20I batsman Babar Azam, which made NZ medium pacer Tim Southee’s dismissal of Azam all the more impressive. He managed to tie him down with dot balls in the 12th over, frustrating the Pakistan opener till he lifted one straight to mid-off. The change of pace did Babar and New Zealand had a sniff of victory.
TACTICAL TURNING POINT
Sarfraz Ahmed trusts his young speedster
Bowling changes in T20I are crucial, knowing when to bowler the right bowler, and especially so in the final overs. With big hitting Corey Anderson at the crease New Zealand looked like posting a formidable total. It took all his courage for Pakistan captain Srafraz Ahmed to toss the ball to his 18-year-old paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi. But Afridi did not let him down, tying the Kiwis in knots as he gave up just one run and took one wicket in the 18th over. Although he gave up 11 runs in the final over he took another two wickets and the damage had been limited.
Pakistan: A –
Another all-round impressive display from the Pakistan line-up who were put under some early pressure by the big hitting of Munro but as always they stuck to their game plan and clawed bak into the match. Hafeez’s dropped catch the only blemish.
New Zealand: B+
This was a solid all-round effort from the Black Caps and against any other team it probably would have been enough to win. Munro, Anderson and Williamson all did well with the bat and it probably just required one of the bowlers to step up and claim the win.
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