New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson says Pakistan were “outstanding” in their five-wicket win over his team at the T20 World Cup in Sharjah.
Pakistan held their nerve in chasing a paltry 135-run target, losing five wickets before romping home in 18.4 overs for their second win in the Super 12 stage.
Fast bowler Haris Rauf took a career-best 4-22 to hold New Zealand – sent into bat – to 134-8 in 20 overs.
Shoaib Malik (26*) and Asif Ali (26*) saw Pakistan home after they were jittery at 87-5, needing 48 in 5.1 overs.
“I suppose, if we look at the opposition and how clinical they were at the death and not allowing us to time the ball, they were of the highest class,” said Williamson.
Williamson, who scored a slow 26-ball 25, and other New Zealand batters found it tough to pace the innings, with Devon Conway and Daryll Mitchell scoring 27 each.
“For us, it’s trying to take some of those learnings and move forward.”
The win gives Pakistan four points in two games, having beaten arch-rivals India by 10 wickets in their opening game in Dubai this past Sunday.
Williamson praised Asif for his hard hitting.
“I think at one stage it required about maybe 52- or 30-ish,” said Williamson. “It was a tough surface to time the ball in. Someone like Malik batting through and finishing off with a couple of lofty blows.
“Asif as well, who came in and hit the ball beautifully, much, much more sweet than anybody else on a tricky surface. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite go our way.”
Asif, maligned for his poor run of scores in the recent matches, smashed two sixes in Tim Southee’s 17th over to bring down the target to 24 in three overs.
Williamson rued losing pace sensation Lockie Ferguson to a calf injury ahead of the match.
“Lockie is a world-class T20 cricketer, so naturally a big loss for us, on that surface as well,” said Williamson of Ferguson, ruled out of the tournament.
“So, it’s unfortunate timing, but having said that, the guys went out and competed really well and made a lot of good decisions along the way. You know when you play those low-scoring matches on tough surfaces like we did tonight, the game is very small margins.
“Unfortunately, when it counted, a couple of misses means a lot, and there’s a lot to learn from those experiences. At the end of the day, Pakistan were outstanding, and they finished the game off beautifully on a very tough surface.”
New Zealand now face India in Dubai on Sunday – a must-win match for both teams.
“We’ve got another tough challenge against India at a different venue, so there’s some more planning to be done there.”
© Agence France-Presse