Pakistan crushed New Zealand by 48 runs in the second T20 in Auckland on Thursday to notch their first victory of the tour over the Black Caps.
The tourists finally found form with both bat and ball to level the three-match T20 series after a humiliating losing streak that included a 5-0 ODI series whitewash. They set an imposing target of 202 after winning the toss and electing to bat, with half centuries for Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman.
In response, New Zealand’s top order crumbled to 64 for six under a combination of tight bowling and commitment in the field from Pakistan.
“Pakistan were excellent tonight in all departments and we weren’t that good in any department,” New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said. “When you catch them on a great day, you get the result we got.”
Openers Fakhar and Ahmed Shehzad laid the platform with a partnership of 94.
Pakistan’s previous best top-order partnership during the six limited-over matches played on tour so far was just 14. The pair made the most of Eden Park’s short boundaries to comfortably dispatch anything short or wide for four.
They punished pacemen Ben Wheeler and Seth Rance, who both conceded 13 runs in an over, prompting New Zealand to introduce spinners Ish Sodhi and Mitchell Santner.
Fakhar responded by belting three sixes off Santner’s first over, bringing up his maiden T20 half century soon after off 26 balls.
Rance finally broke through in the ninth over, deceiving Ahmed with a slower ball that carried straight to Colin de Grandhomme on the boundary. Fakhar fell in the next over but Sarfraz Ahmed and Babar kept the scoreboard ticking over, taking Pakistan to 137 for two with five overs remaining.
Sarfraz in particular displayed a confidence that had so far eluded him on tour to make 41 off 24 deliveries. Babar brought up his 50 and took the team past 200 with a four off the final ball of the innings.
Pakistan’s bowling attack capitalized on the good work from their batsmen by dislodging New Zealand’s top order cheaply.
Faheem Ashraf ended with figures of three for 22 while Shadab Khan and Mohammad Amir each took two wickets.
Colin Munro was trapped lbw for one then, captain Kane Williamson made a rare golden duck before Tom Bruce was run out thanks to some sharp fielding from Haris Sohail. The home team’s hopes faded when Shadab Khan took the prized scalp of Martin Guptill for 26, leaving the Black Caps teetering at 52 for four and needing more than 11 runs an over.
Ben Wheeler and Mitchell Santner combined for a 54-run partnership but the early-innings damage meant the target was beyond them.