Pakistan thumps New Zealand in Babar’s 100th T20

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LAHORE: Pakistan celebrated the 100th Twenty20 of its all-format captain Babar Azam with a thumping 88-run win over a weakened New Zealand in the first game of their five-match series on Friday.

Fast bowler Haris Rauf’s career-best figures of 4-18 upstaged Matt Henry’s earlier hat trick as New Zealand got bowled out for 94 with more than four overs to spare — losing its last five wickets for only six runs.

Rapidly improving young batter Saim Ayub and Fakhar Zaman made 47 runs each before New Zealand struck in the latter half of the innings on the back of Henry’s hat trick and got Pakistan bowled out for 182 in the final over.

“I still remember the journey of starting off here as a ball-boy on the sidelines and to now be here, it is a huge honor,” Babar said.

Pakistan got to its full strength for the series against the Kiwis after losing to Afghanistan 2-1 in the United Arab Emirates in a series where four frontline players, including Rauf and Babar, were rested.

A depleted New Zealand side is touring Pakistan for a five T20s and five ODIs without eight of its frontline players, who are busy in the Indian Premier League.

“Lot of guys have not been here and it is about taking the learnings from this game and adapt quickly tomorrow,” New Zealand captain Tom Latham said. “We did not quite adapt to the conditions early enough … on that surface, the (Pakistan) score was slightly above-par.”

New Zealand struck early through Adam Milne (2-51) in the powerplay when the fast bowler trapped Mohammad Rizwan (8) leg before wicket and Babar went for an over ambitious shot on the offside against the pacer and was bowled out for 9 off 7 balls.

Left-handers Saim and Fakhar then combined in an aggressive 79-run stand off 43 balls before Saim was run out as he couldn’t beat Chad Bowes’ direct throw from deep midwicket and fell short of his crease at the non-striker’s end.

Fakhar also perished before the death overs when he was caught in the deep while attempting a sweep against leg-spinner Ish Sodhi as Pakistan slipped to 6-131.

Henry then accomplished a split hat trick when he had Shadab Khan and Iftikhar Ahmed caught behind on the final two balls of his third over in his return spell. Henry then had Shaheen Shah Afridi caught in the deep through Daryl Mitchell’s spectacular effort, who parried the ball back to Bowes on the field while falling over the boundary line.

New Zealand’s inexperienced top-order was rattled by Pakistan’s strong pace attack with Mark Chapman top-scoring with a chancy 34 but not before Rizwan missed a regulation stumping early in his knock.

Rauf then quickly wrapped up the innings by claiming three wickets in his return spell and left-arm spinner Imad Wasim also picked up two wickets off successive deliveries to give Pakistan emphatic start in the series.

Lahore will host two more T20s before Rawalpindi stages the last two games of the series. The T20 series will be followed by five ODIs in Rawalpindi and Karachi.

Result: Pakistan won by 88 runs
By Saif R Siddiqui

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