Christchurch: Pakistan had an unlikely hero as it bowled New Zealand out for 92 to win the fifth Twenty20 International by 42 runs Sunday and avoid a clean sweep in the five-match series.
The tourists’ total of 134-8 after choosing to bat looked inadequate as it was their lowest of the series after their losing efforts of 180, 173, 179-7 and 158-5 in the four previous matches.
But, it proved more than enough on a sub-standard pitch at Hagley and New Zealand only just surpassed its previous lowest total in a T20 International in New Zealand.
Iftikhar Ahmed was the surprise hero for Pakistan. The 33-year-old hadn’t bowled in Pakistan’s last eight Twenty20s, hadn’t taken a wicket since 2022 and had only four wickets in 53 matches before Sunday.
But, he thrived on a pitch which gripped and turned as he took three for 11 to play the leading role in New Zealand’s downfall. His previous best was one for seven.
Iftikhar dismissed Tim Seifert (19), Matt Henry (1), Ish Sodhi (1), took a catch to remove Will Young (12) and played a part in the run out of Mark Chapman (1).
Veterans Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan remain the strength of Pakistan’s batting and again provided the foundation of the Pakistan innings on Sunday with the 20th half-century partnership of their joint careers.
Rizwan scored 184 runs in the series at an average of 46 and Babar 213 runs at 53.34. But, Babar looked lost on a slow pitch Sunday and scored only 13 runs from 24 balls.
The 4-1 loss in this series follows Pakistan’s 3-0 loss to Australia in a three-test series before it arrived in New Zealand and it has now won only one of its last nine T20 series. Agencies