Pakistan cantered to a comfortable six-wicket victory over New Zealand in Dubai to take an unassailable 2-0 lead and clinch their 11th consecutive T20I series victory.
New Zealand got off to a quick start as opener Colin Munro took charge against the Pakistan opening bowlers. Munro and Glenn Phillips raced to their second 50-run opening partnership in two matches with Phillips serving largely as an onlooker to Munro’s charge. Phillips managed only five runs from 12 balls before being dismissed in the final over of the powerplay by teenage sensation and Man of the Match Shaheen Afridi.
Munro smashed four fours and two sixes on his way to a quickfire 44 off 28 balls. Having survived a couple of run-out scares and being dropped by Mohammad Hafeez at long-on, Munro’s luck finally ran out as Hafeez made up for his out-field error with the ball, dismissing the left-hander six runs short of his half-century with captain Sarfraz Ahmed completing the stumping.
The Kiwi batsmen struggled to get the ball away during the middle session as the Pakistani bowlers started finding their range and dried up the runs. Captain Kane Williamson (37 off 34 balls, two fours) survived through that testing period while watching the wickets fall regularly from the other end.
The young Afridi bowled well throughout the innings and returned to the attack for the death overs to dismiss Williamson before finishing with figures of 3-20 in his four overs.
Corey Anderson unleashed at the end of the innings to add an unbeaten 44 off 25 balls (four fours, two sixes) as he marshalled the visiting team to a competitive 153-7 in their 20 overs on an infamously low-scoring Dubai pitch.
Pakistan matched the Kiwi’s fast-paced start as they also posted 50-1 in their powerplay. Williamson was at hand with a brilliant one-handed catch (diving to his left) to dismiss the explosive opener Fakhar Zaman – who returned to the team after missing the first T20I due to a knee injury – on 24 off 15 balls (three fours, one six) off the bowling of Adam Milne.
Babar Azam (40 off 41 balls, four fours) and Asif Ali (38 off 34 balls, one four, two sixes) kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely during the middle overs before Babar lost his wicket looking to attack Tim Southee (4-0-26-1). Asif soon followed him back to the pavilion after being trapped LBW by Munro with the home team already on 114-3 after 16 overs.
The in-form Hafeez finished unbeaten on 34 off 21 balls (one four, two sixes) carried the home side over the line in the final over to clinch a six-wicket victory that continues Pakistan’s astonishing unbeaten run to a record-extending 11th successive T20I series victory.
Pakistan and New Zealand will face off in the final T20I at the same venue on Sunday with the tourists seeking to salvage their first win of the tour in the dead rubber.
Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images