Sharjah: “It’s been disappointing at the end,” New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson’s words summed up the brave show the Kiwis had put before getting beaten by a team that showed tremendous self-belief and confidence in their abilities in a low-scoring contest at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium on Tuesdy.
New Zealand had the match under their control until the 16th over. An assault by Asif Ali in the next over, followed by few big shots by veteran Shoaib Malik gave Pakistan a five-wicket win in the end. The second win further strengthened Pakistan’s credentials for a semi-final spot as they sit at the top of the table with four points from two wins.
“Unfortunately, we couldn’t nail a things towards the back-end, but we were up against a very good side in Pakistan and congratulations to them,” Williamson said at the presentation ceremony.I
New Zealand were tightening their hold on the match when Trent Boult dismissed Imad Wasim leg before the wicket when the scoreboard read 85/5 in 14.5 overs. But a counter-offensive by Ali and Malik eased the pressure. The pair added 48 runs under four overs to guide Pakistan to victory with eight balls to spare.
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Despite playing in conditions that were not favourable to the Kiwis, they gave a good account of themselves in all facets of the game. They bowled a tight line and took some stunning catches to build the pressure on the Pakistan batters. However, if there is one area where the New Zealand batters had failed to press home the advantage, it was in the middle overs — between 13-17 overs — when they failed to score a single boundary.
It is the New Zealand captain Williamson who needs to shoulder the blame for the downslide as his dismissal to a non-existent single found him short of the crease while going for a needless run in after Devon Conway hit three fours in the previous over.
The crucial wicket of Williamson put New Zealand’s innings in disarray as none of the other batters could force the pace against some precise bowling from the Pakistan pacers. They did not give any room to free the arms and hit the yorker length consistently.
New Zealand should have guessed the length the pacers would bowl as early as the first few overs when Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali and Haris Rauf consistently bowled on the toes of the New Zealand batters. In fact, Rauf softened up New Zealand opener Martin Guptill with a yorker on his toes off the first ball and then induced an error off the next to get the first wicket.
The quick bowling changes by Pakistan also didn’t give the Kiwis any chance to fire on a Sharjah pitch that’s been used for the first time in three matches. New Zealand could score only 44 runs in the last seven overs to finish for an under-par 134 for eight in 20 overs. Another 15-20 runs could have given them a better chance to get the two points on offer.
Now, Williamson sets his sights on getting the first points on board against India in Dubai on October 31. “We’ll pick ourselves up and be ready for the next challenge.”
After losing the opener against Pakistan, a victory is important for both the teams to strengthen their chances of making the semi-finals.
Scores in brief
Pakistan beat New Zealand at Sharjah Cricket Stadium, Sharjah by five wickets
New Zealand 134/8, in 20 overs (Devon Conway 27, Daryl Mitchell 27; Haris Rauf 4-22, Mohammad Hafeez 1-16)
Pakistan 135/5, in 18.4 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 33, Asif Ali 27 not out; Ish Sodhi 2-28; Tim Southee 1-25)
Player of the Match: Haris Rauf (Pakistan)