Fast bowler Haris Rauf took a career-best 4-22 to help Pakistan defeat New Zealand by five wickets and record their second successive win in the T20 World Cup on Tuesday.
Boosted by their brilliant performance in the 10-wicket rout of arch-rivals India this past Sunday, Rauf inspired the 2009 champions to victory in front of a boisterous Sharjah crowd mainly comprised of Pakistani expats.
Devon Conway and Daryl Mitchell both scored 27 for New Zealand, while skipper Kane Williamson made a laborious 25 off 26 balls as New Zealand were held to a below-par 134-8.
Veteran Shoaib Malik (27) and Asif Ali (26) came together with Pakistan wobbling at 87-5 and led the team to their target in 18.4 overs.
Pakistan had lost skipper Babar Azam to Tim Southee – bowled for nine in the sixth over – as the paceman took his 100th wicket in his 84th T20I.
He is only the third bowler behind Bangladesh’s Shakib Al Hasan (117 in 92 T20Is) and Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga (107 in 84) to take 100 or more wickets in the format.
Leg-spinner Ish Sodhi trapped both Fakhar Zaman (11) and Mohammad Rizwan leg before to leave Pakistan reeling at 69-4.
In between those two dismissals, Conway produced a brilliant diving catch at wide long-off to dismiss Mohammad Hafeez, who attempted to lift spinner Mitchell Santner out of the ground.
When Imad Wasim fell for 11, Pakistan still needed 47 off 31 deliveries.
It was left to Asif – maligned for his continuous failures – to hit two sixes off Southee in the 17th over to bring down the target to 24 off the last three.
Malik reduced that to nine in two overs by hitting a four and a six off Santner.
Asif then smacked Boult for six before hitting the winning runs.
It was Rauf who did much of the damage with the ball against New Zealand – sent in to bat on a sluggish pitch – improving on his previous best of 3-29, also against the same opponents last year.
Pakistan applied the pressure right from the start as left-arm paceman Shaheen Shah Afridi, whose three wickets against India earned him Man of the Match, bowled a maiden first over.
New Zealand reached 36 without loss when Rauf bowled Martin Guptill off his pads for 17. He also accounted for Conway and Glenn Phillips (13) in one over as New Zealand failed to lift the tempo at any stage.
There were no boundaries in overs 14 to 16 as even Phillips – who hit most sixes in the T20 Blast in England this year with 36 – failed to clear the boundary.
Rauf also dismissed Santner (six) with the last ball of the final over.
Shaheen finished with 1-21 while spinners Hafeez and Imad also took a wicket each.
Pakistan kept the same team that beat India.
New Zealand – playing their first game in the Super 12s – were jolted before the start of the match when fast bowler Lockie Ferguson was ruled out of the tournament with a calf injury.
Pakistan next play Afghanistan in Dubai on Friday while New Zealand face India, also in Dubai, on Sunday.
© Agence France-Presse