ANI Photo | Spinners star in consolation win as Pak avoid whitewash with 42-run victory over Kiwis

Pakistan avoided a clean sweep in the five-match T20I series against New Zealand with a dominant display with the ball, as they salvaged some pride witn a 42-run victory at the Hagley Oval.
Pakistan’s spin attack which has been underwhelming throughout the five-match series rose to the occasion, with Mohammad Nawaz and Iftikhar Ahmed leading the charge and Usama Mir providing the ideal backup.
Pakistan played their cards correctly on a surface that fell on a slower side. After Zaman Khan and Nawaz provided the ideal start to the visitors in the powerplay by removing Rachin Ravindra (1) and Finn Allen (22).
The spin duo were called into action and managed to keep things tight during the middle overs.
The pressure of constantly increasing gap between runs and balls crept into the minds of Kiwi batters. They tried to play on the aggressive foot but continued to lose wickets at regular intervals.
With two wickets in hand, Glenn Phillips (26) tried to fight the battle on his own, shifted through gears in the end, scored a four and then a maximum to keep NZ in the chase.
But skipper Shaheen Afridi’s pace got better of Phillips and then Lockie Ferguson which helped them avoid a whitewash.
Nawaz scalped two while giving away 18 runs in his four-over spell. Iftikhar ended the game with three wickets in his kitty and conceded 24 runs in his four overs. Their spells played a crucial role in restricting New Zealand to 92 in 17.2 overs.
Earlier in the game, a clinical spell with the ball saw New Zealand restricting Pakistan to a paltry score of 134/8.
After winning the toss and electing to bat, Pakistan’s bid to hand Haseebullah Khan a debut in order to avoid a 5-0 series defeat didn’t reap the expected award. Tim Southee drew the first blood in the first over of the game by dismissing Haseebullah for a three-ball duck.
Former Pakistan skipper Babar Azam looked rustic throughout his knock of 13 off 24 deliveries. He struggled to pick up the gaps and tried to resort to aerial route to pick up singles before losing his wicket to legspinner Ish Sodhi.
He got two lifelines with Mark Chapman dropping him on both occasions but Babar failed to make the most of the opportunities that were gifted to him.
Mohammad Rizwan chipped in with a handy contribution of 38 runs in the same number of balls. Fakhar Zaman’s entertaining 33 saw him tonk four maximums and register a single boundary.
Abbas Afridi in the 19th over, sent the ball into the stands twice in Matt Henry’s over to push Men in Green’s score to 134/8.
Brief Score: Pakistan 134-8 (Mohammad Rizwan 38, Fakhar Zaman 33; Tim Southee 2-19) vs New Zealand 92 (Glenn Phillips 26; Iftikhar Ahmed 3-24, Mohammad Nawaz 2-18). (ANI)

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