Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates the wicket of Tim Seofert of New Zealand
Pakistan's Shaheen Afridi celebrates the wicket of Tim Seofert of New Zealand Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News

Well, it goes without saying that Sharjah Cricket ground proved lucky again for the Pakistan team as they won their second T20 World Cup match on the bounce — this time against New Zealand in a dramatic chase, with victory coming in the 19th over with five wickets in hand.

Explosive hitter Asif Ali with 27 runs in 12 balls including three sixes and one four snatched the game from the Kiwis’ claws in the slog overs. He was well supported by the veteran Shoaib Malik, who was included in the Pakistan side at the last moment. He proved his worth with a much-needed knock of 26 off 20 deliveries with two fours and a six.

A modest 134/8 by New Zealand during Tuesday’s match initially looked a tough chase for Pakistan on the new strip in Sharjah especially after captain Babar Azam (9 for 11 balls) was bowled out by pacer Tim Southee in the early overs. Mohammad Rizwan secured the one end for some time — watching the wickets falling down from the other side in dismay — but he kept the score board ticking. Fakhar Zaman could score only 11 in 17, while the experienced Mohammed Hafeez who was in good form was brilliantly caught by Devon Conway off Mitchell Santner. He was followed by Imad Waseem who could also score only 11 off 12 deliveries.

New Zealand bowlers managed to choke Pakistani batters for the first 15 overs but they could not nail it and lost the match in the 19th over sending Pakistan to the top of the points table. It is New Zealand’s third straight defeat in as many T20 matches including the two losses against England and Australia in the warm-up matches

Pakistan bowlers dominated the first innings and successfully restricted the New Zealand to low score of 138/8 in 20 overs. Though Shaheen Afridi did not a pick up wicket in his very first over, he managed to choke the Kiwis batters in his four-over spell, conceding only 21 runs and getting a wicket in the slog overs.

Nevertheless, it was talented pacer Haris Rauf’s day, who was unplayable with his mix of super-fast and slow deliveries. He claimed four wickets including one his first over, two in the third over and one on the last ball of the innings. He was well supported by spinners Mohammed Hafiz and Imad Waseem.

Hasan Ali has been brilliant in the field and ran out New Zealand captain Kane Williamson — the turning point for the Kiwis as he was the only one scoring freely. From there, it was Pakistan all the way.