Pakistan down New Zealand after fascinating clash

Asif Ali hit three sixes in his 12-ball 27 to hand Pakistan five-wicket win over Blackcaps

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Pakistan have thumped New Zealand by five wickets in a low-scoring thriller at Sharjah Cricket Stadium.

Asif Ali’s power-hitting and Shoaib Malik’s patience during the chase helped the Men in Green chase down the 135-run target after Haris Rauf laid a perfect platform to restrict New Zealand to 134/8.

Pakistan captain Babar Azam repeated the pattern from last match as he called to bowl first against Blackcaps at the toss.

The openers started cautiously against Pakistan bowlers. Martin Guptill (17) was the first to be dismissed courtesy sheer pace from Haris, ratting his stumps in the final over of the powerplay.

Daryll Mitchell fell to Imad Wasim as he tried to clear the rope. He hit two sixes and a four in his 20-ball 27.

Jimmy Neesham was promoted up the order to give momentum to the innings, however, he was sent packing by Mohammad Hafeez for one.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson and left-hander David Conway tried to recover but brilliant work from Hasan Ali on his follow-through ran Williamson out to create further havoc. Williamson scored a 26-ball 25.

Haris was all over New Zealand at the backend as he struck twice to remove Conway (27) and Glenn Phillips (13) in the 18th over while he castled Mitchell Santner on the final ball off the innings.

He finished with figures of 4/22 while Shaheen Shah bagged one wicket for 21 in his four-over spell.

Inform pair of Mohammad Rizwan and Babar Azam were disciplined in the start of the chase as the ball was not coming onto the bat nicely.

Tim Southee clean bowled Babar (9) on the first ball of the fifth over. It was his 100th wicket in T20I cricket, the third bowler to achieve the feat after Shakib Al Hasan and Lasith Malinga.

Fakhar Zaman (11) fell to leg-spinner Ish Sodhi after a struggled stay. An excellent review was taken as it looked like Fakhar had middled the ball but it did brush the pad for an LBW dismissal.

The Men in Green struggled a bit as Mohammad Hafeez and Rizwan walked back in quick succession. Hafeez (11) departed courtesy of a brilliant catch by Conway where he ran from long-on to grab a well-timed shot by Hafeez.

Rizwan was trapped in front by Sodhi in the following over which made the chase tricky. The hero of the chase against India only scored 33 off 34 balls.

Trent Boult bagged a vital wicket of Imad Wasim (11) to create further trouble for Pakistan but hard-hitter Asif Ali had other plans. The right-hander smacked two back-to-back sixes off Southee’s 17th over to hand Pakistan an upper hand.

Veteran Shoaib Malik followed with a six and a four off in the next over to ease down the pressure. Asif finished the match in the 19th over as both the batters ran two. Asif remained unbeaten at 12-ball 27 while Malik scored 26 in 20 balls.

Pakistan will now play Afghanistan on October 29 at Dubai International Stadium.

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