Chapman’s maiden ton leads NZ to T20 series comeback draw

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RAWALPINDI: Mark Chapman’s blistering maiden Twenty20 century powered an inexperienced New Zealand to a series-leveling victory against Pakistan on Monday.

New Zealand looked out of it at 73-4 in the 10th over, chasing 194. Then Chapman and Jimmy Neesham combined for an unbeaten 121 runs in 9.3 overs to win the fifth and final T20.

The Black Caps pulled off the second highest chase against Pakistan when they made 194-4 in reply to Pakistan’s 193-5 anchored by opener Mohammad Rizwan’s unbeaten 98 off 62 balls.

Chapman smashed a career-best 104 not out off 57 balls. Neesham hit his second highest T20 score of 45 not out off 25.

New Zealand came back from losing the first two matches in Lahore to square the series 2-2. The fourth match on Friday was washed out.

Chapman was the series star by scoring 290 runs in five games against a full-strength Pakistan bowling attack. He was dismissed just once in the opening game. It was a stunning show by a New Zealand squad depleted of eight frontline players who opted for Indian Premier League.

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New Zealand was in trouble early in the series decider. Shaheen Shah Afridi dismissed Latham off the first ball and found the edge of Will Young’s bat in the same over. Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim also got two wickets and tied down the New Zealanders.

But Chapman and Neesham cut loose in a chase paced to perfection.

Shadab Khan, who was taken out of the attack after bowling two overs for 29 runs, had a forgetful night in his hometown when he missed a regulation catch in Afridi’s return spell that could have dismissed Chapman on 67.

Chapman smashed 11 boundaries and four sixes, including a spliced six over third man off Haris Rauf, in a superb display at Pindi Cricket Stadium.

Rizwan gave Pakistan momentum after fast bowler Blair Tickner, playing his first game of the series in place of an injured Matt Henry, took two quick wickets and ended up with 3-33.

Babar and Rizwan combined for 51 off 34 balls before Tickner dismissed Babar and Mohammad Haris, one of the two changes by Pakistan.

Rizwan added 71 runs with Iftikhar Ahmed (36) and a rapid 68 with Imad Wasim (31).

Rizwan hit seven fours and four sixes to need three runs off the final over for his second T20 hundred. But he could make only a single off the first ball. Facing the last delivery by Neesham, Rizwan missed.

Both teams begin a five-match one-day international series on Thursday at Rawalpindi.

Result: New Zealand won by 6 wickets
By Saif R Siddiqui

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