After the drawn test series both Pakistan and New Zealand went into this game looking to build some momentum ahead of the 50 over World Cup which is due to start in February.
Pakistan had newly re-appointed captain Shahid Afridi back in their side, as well as the inexperienced Harris Sohail, Saad Nasim and Anwar Ali. Pakistan in all made nine changes to their side, only Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammed Hafeez were retained from the test squad.
As for New Zealand their squad showed several changes as well. The Kiwis gave starts to Anton Devcich, Matt Henry and Adam Milne, while the rest of the New Zealand side did show other changes as well, with most notably Brendan McCullum not being in the side. There was a starting berth for Brendan’s brother Nathan McCullum however and a recall for Martin Guptil.
It was Pakistan who won the toss in this match and they decided to field – and their decision seemed justified as New Zealand slumped to 61-4. Martin Guptil, new boy Anton devcich, Ross Taylor and skipper Kane Williamson were all back in the pavilion early.
A brief rally from New Zealand saw the Black Caps put on 51 for the sixth wicket – but when Corey Anderson was out for a very entertaining 48 off just 37 balls, the game seemed up for the Kiwis. The score at that point was 112-5, sadly for New Zealand their innings didn’t get any better. The New Zealander’s in the end stuttered to 135-7.
Corey Anderson’s brilliant 48 was off just 37 balls included four maximums, but his knock looked to be in a losing cause. Anderson did have support from Luke Ronchi, the New Zealand wicketkeeper who scored an attacking 33 off just 28 balls.
There was also a good contribution at the top of the order from Martin Guptil who scored a near run-a-ball 32 – but other than that the New Zealand scored card contained to many low scoring contributions- and this is what left New Zealand potentially 15- 20 runs short.
Pakistan went into this run chase with the knowledge that they have some very good T20 batsmen in their side. The Pakistani batting line up included Umar Akmal, Awais Zia who is seen as the ‘new boom boom’ and of course the original ‘boom boom’ himself Shahid Afridi.
With such an impressive batting line up, Pakistan would have been confident of their chances of winning this game. Pakistan started their run chase with the opening pairing of Sarfraz Ahmed and Awais Zia. The Pakistani opening pair put on 51 for the first wicket.
The opening stand was broken by a run out by Anton Devcich, at that point Pakistan seemed to be in control – but after another run out, this time Mohammed Hafeez being run out by Luke Ronchi – Pakistan looked like they were stuttering a little bit in this run chase.
A 37 run third wicket stand however did manage to take the sting out of the game it seemed – but when new boy Harris Sohail was out caught by Nathan McCullum off the bowling of Mitchell McClenaghan, it looked there was another twist in the tale.
A fourth wicket stand of 43 between Umar Akmal and Sarfraz Ahmed, who hit a quite brilliant 76 off just 64 balls, which included eight 4’s and two 6’s ended the game as a contest as Pakistan won by seven wickets. Pakistan lead the two match T20 series 1-0, the second game is on Friday.