Pakistan won by two runs in a low-scoring encounter against New Zealand in Abu Dhabi to go 1-0 up in the three-match series.
After winning the toss and electing to bat first, Pakistan got off to a slow start as they lost both their opening batsmen within four overs with the score on 10-2. Mohammad Hafeez played beautifully alongside Asif Ali (24 off 21 balls, one four, one six) in an explosive 67-run partnership for the third wicket.
Hafeez (45 off 36 balls, five fours, two sixes) was unlucky to miss out on his half-century as he cut a short ball off Adam Milne – New Zealand’s most successful bowler with 2-28 in four overs – to Tim Southee on the boundary, who dismissed the veteran batsman with an excellent catch diving to his left.
Pakistan could only manage 148-6 in their 20 overs – a total most considered slightly underpar for the No 1-ranked team.
In contrast, New Zealand’s innings got off to a flying start as they quickly raced to 50 runs before opening batsman Glenn Phillips succumbed to Hasan Ali on the final ball of the powerplay. Colin Munro went on to make 58 off 42 balls (six fours, two sixes) before chipping a tossed up ball from Shadab Khan (4-0-26-1) to long on.
The Pakistan bowlers responded well after the initial onslaught, drying up the runs and reducing the Kiwi’s scoring rate to put pressure on the batsmen as the ball got older.
New Zealand lost wickets regularly in the final stages of the innings as Pakistan started taking control of the encounter. Hasan Ali managed 3-35 in his slightly-expensive four overs and the rest of the bowlers backed him up well to restrict the visitors to only 146-6 in their 20 overs – two runs short of the target.
Ross Taylor’s unbeaten 42 off 26 balls (three fours) wasn’t enough to help the Kiwi’s over the line as they became the latest scalp under Pakistan’s belt.
The visitors will have to win the second T20I in Dubai on Friday if they hope to end Pakistan’s 10-series and seven-match winning streak in T20’s.
Photo: Stu Forster/Getty Images