Napier: A brilliant knock of 89 from wicketkeeper-batsman Mohammad Rizwan made sure the decent work done by the bowlers didn't go in vain as Pakistan registered a four-wicket win in the third and final T20I against New Zealand on Tuesday.
Opting to field, Pakistan bowlers kept the New Zealand batsmen in check and despite Devon Conway's 63-run knock, the hosts could muster 173/7 in their allotted 20 overs at the McLean Park.
Besides Conway, Tim Seifert — who had been New Zealand's hero in the first two games — contributed with 35 runs, which came off 20 deliveries. Glenn Phillips's 31 off 20 was also another notable performance for the Black Caps.
For Pakistan, right-arm medium-fast bowler Faheem Ashraf was the pick of the bowlers as he returned with brilliant figures of 3/20 in his four overs. HarisRauf and ShaheenAfridi also picked two wickets each, giving away 44 and 43 runs respectively.
Chasing the target, Pakistan started off well as Haider Ali and Rizwan made 40 runs for the first wicket in 5.2 overs. After Ali's dismissal, Mohammad Hafeez joined forces with Rizwan and the duo shared a 72-run stand and put the visitors on track of their solitary win in the series.
However, after Hafeez's dismissal on his individual score of 41, Pakistan lost three quicks wickets in the form of Khushdil Shah (13), Faheem Ashraf (2) and captain Shadab Khan (0). Towards the end, Iftikhar Ahmed kept his calm and scored 14 unbeaten runs to take Pakistan over the line with two balls to spare and end the T20I series with a scoreline of 1-2.
For the hosts, Tim Southee starred with the ball as he picked two wickets in his four overs while conceding 25 runs. Scott Kuggeleijn also scalped two wickets. However, he was expensive as he gave away 40 runs in his four overs.
Rizwan, who smashed 10 fours and three sixes during his 59-ball inning, was adjudged the Player of the Match while Seifert was declared the Player of the Series.
New Zealand and Pakistan will now compete in a two-Test series beginning Saturday at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui.
Brief scores: New Zealand 173/7 (Devon Conway 63; Faheem Ashraf 3/20) lose to Pakistan 177/6 (Mohammad Rizwan 89; Tim Southee 2/25).IANS