Mitchell, Williamson, and Southee spearhead New Zealand to a resounding victory.

New Zealand 226 for 7 (Mitchell 61, Williamson 57, Abbas 3-46) beat Pakistan 180 (Babar 57, Southee 4-25) by 46 runs

In a lively and entertaining match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand thwarted Pakistan by 46 runs in front of an enthusiastic weekend crowd, dampening Shaheen Afridi’s ascent as T20I captain. Seizing the advantage after Pakistan chose to field first, New Zealand capitalized on a somewhat lackluster bowling performance.

Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson both notched half-centuries, complementing a dynamic onslaught from Finn Allen. Despite debutant Abbas Afridi’s commendable 3 for 34 in challenging bowling conditions, it failed to prevent the home side from accumulating a formidable total of 226, boosted by a late cameo from Mark Chapman.

Pakistan’s respond

Pakistan’s response was to send out a side full of rage to make a point, but they lacked the control and speed that New Zealand had. The home team kept taking wickets to make it harder for Pakistan to reach the huge score, and even though they got off to a great start, they were never able to control the asking rate.

150 T20I Wickets for Tim

Tim Southee took four more wickets to help bring Pakistan back into the game. He was the first player to take 150 wickets in a T20I. In a great second over, Mohammad Rizwan was trapped and finally out with a slower ball. This set the tone, and he would later bowl out Iftikhar Ahmed at a key point in the chase.

All six of the top players had moments, but only Babar Azam was able to keep going and score a nice fifty in 33 balls. The asking rate had gone up past 14, though Babar was never really ready to power through. When he fell, Pakistan’s threat died with a whimper. Pakistan was down to 180 runs when they lost their last four wickets in 11 balls, scoring only seven runs. This gave the home team an early lead in the game.

Shaheen Afridi’s Captains’ Debut

Wearing the captain’s armband, Shaheen Afridi’s first over always promises excitement, and this occasion was no exception. He ensured a strong start, claiming a wicket off the second ball as Devon Conway’s turned bat fell victim to the extra pace, scooping one into the covers. The next four balls saw Shaheen skillfully working over his counterpart, Kane Williamson, swinging it both ways and forcing four dot balls.

Despite New Zealand’s initially slow start, Finn Allen took charge with a fierce onslaught beginning in Shaheen’s second over. Shaheen had acknowledged the challenge of bowling full at Eden Park with its short straight boundaries, and Allen demonstrated the difficulty in that over. In the 2022 T20 World Cup semi-final, Shaheen had dismissed Allen in the first over, a blow from which New Zealand never recovered. However, in this match, Allen made amends by smashing each of Shaheen’s first five balls for boundaries—two sixes sandwiched by three fours—accumulating 24 runs in the over and propelling New Zealand forward.

Chaos up top for Pakistan

This was a fun match despite its many lost catches, poor bowling lengths, mixups, and miscues. The early chase showed the game’s hectic pace. Saim Ayub hit the first ball through the covers for four before landing a magnificent no-look bunt over deep backwards square leg for six. After scooping one up to mid-off, Ayub was relieved to see Williamson drop on the last ball of the over.

Ayub hit two sixes and a four after Matt Henry dropped a good chance to let Rizwan off the opening ball of the second over. Pakistan’s self-harm struck again when Ayub tripped trying a run and Adam Milne’s direct hit nailed him. As the match slowed down, Rizwan tried to keep the tempo going with a six off the following ball, but Eden Park’s 20,055 fans got their money’s worth.

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