Sports & Games

Pakistan Lose First T20I to New Zealand by 46 Runs

Pakistan’s hopes of starting the T20I series against New Zealand on a winning note were dashed by a clinical performance from the hosts, who posted a daunting 226 for 8 and then restricted the visitors to 180 for 10 in the first match at Eden Park, Auckland, on Friday.

It was a disappointing day for Shaheen Afridi, who was leading Pakistan for the first time in the shortest format, as his bowlers were taken apart by the New Zealand batsmen, especially Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson, who scored half-centuries.

Pakistan had a chance to put New Zealand under pressure when Shaheen Afridi, dismissed Devon Conway for a duck in the first over. However, Finn Allen and Williamson steadied the innings with a 49-run stand, before Finn Allen for 34 off 15 balls.

Williamson, who was dropped by Babar Azam on 11, made Pakistan pay for the miss, as he anchored the innings with a 42-ball 57, hitting nine fours. He was well supported by Mitchell, who smashed 61 off just 27 balls, with four fours and four sixes.

The duo added 78 runs for the third wicket in just 8.2 overs, taking New Zealand past 150 in the 15th over. Pakistan managed to break the partnership when Abbas Afridi had Williamson caught by Fakhar Zaman, but the damage was already done.

Mark Chapman provided the finishing touches with a cameo of 26 off 11 balls, as New Zealand ended with a mammoth total of 226 for 8. Abbas Afridi was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers, taking 3 for 34, while Haris Rauf also claimed two wickets.

Pakistan needed a strong start to chase down the target, and they got one from Saim Ayub, who was also making his T20I debut. The left-handed opener blasted 27 off just 8 balls, hitting two fours and three sixes.

Babar Azam then took charge of the innings, and played some elegant shots to keep Pakistan in the hunt. He reached his 31st T20I fifty off 31 balls, and looked set to take Pakistan closer to the target. However, he did not get much support from the other end, as Fakhar Zaman, Iftikhar Ahmed and Azam Khan all failed to make an impact.

Pakistan’s middle-order collapsed from 130 for 4 to 180 allout, as New Zealand’s bowlers tightened the screws. Adam Milne and Ben Sears took two wickets each, while Southee finished with 3 for 25. Haris Rauf was the last man to fall, for 0, as Pakistan folded for 180 in 18 overs.

The second T20I will be played at Seddon Park, Hamilton, on Sunday. Pakistan will have to regroup and bounce back quickly, if they want to level the series and keep their hopes of winning alive.

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