Blackcaps v Pakistan: New Zealand bowlers hold nerve to earn second victory at Hamilton

New Zealand have jumped out to a 2-0 lead in their five-match Twenty20 series against Pakistan, with a 21-run victory at Hamilton's Seddon Park.

Winning the toss, the visitors invited their hosts to bat first and did well to limit them to 194/8, after the Blackcaps got off to a rollicking start, striking at 10 runs an over for most of their journey.

Adding to the drama, the Kiwis lost captain Kane Williamson to a hamstring strain during his innings, putting a little more pressure on the batters following him.

Pakistan seemed well on pace to achieve their target midway through their pursuit, with veterans Babar Azam and Fakhar Zaman assaulting the NZ bowlers, but the loss of 3/11 in the space of three overs proved a turning point.

Finn Allen hits out against Pakistan.
Finn Allen hits out against Pakistan. Photo credit: Photosport

The home side started aggressively, with opener Finn Allen delivering on the belligerent form he showed two days earlier at Auckland. This time, he cleared the powerplay, gathering his fourth T20 international fifty off just 24 balls.

Along the way, he lost opening partner Devon Conway, who also seemed in reasonably touch, until skying a catch to Zaman, off Aamer Jamal.

Williamson proved a willing companion out in the middle, taking 26 runs off 15 balls and helping his side to a healthy 111/1 halfway through their innings, but after receiving medical attention, he hobbled back to the pavilion.

No worries. Allen continue to swing lustily and reached 74 off 41 balls, including five sixes, before he was deceived by spinner Usama Mir and lost his middle stump. His departure signalled that start of New Zealand's speed wobbles.

Daryl Mitchell played onto his stumps off the last ball of Abbas Afridi's third over and then Mark Chapman lofted a catch to Mohammad Rizwan off the first ball of his next over, leaving Mitch Santner to dig out a perfect yorker to deny the hattrick.

Quickly recovered from a bout of COVID-19, Santner and Glenn Phillips put on 23 runs for the fifth wicket, before the latter lofted Haris Rauf to Saim Ayub. Adam Milne was caught off the very next ball, but a legside wide saw Ish Sodhi survive another hattrick opportunity.

The reprieve lasted only one ball, as Rauf had his man bowled next delivery, and the Blackcaps were 183/7, but effectively down eight wickets, well short of their projected total at halfway.

Santner was run out for 25 with two balls remaining, but as tailender Ben Sears strode to the wicket, Williamson could be seen padded up on the boundary, just in case he was needed.

New Zealand's score was not disastrous and seemed defendable, but could have been much, much more.

Their chances improved, when acting skipper Tim Southee removed Ayub in the opening over of Pakistan's response and Rizwan edged Milne to keeper Conway in the second. The speedster should have had another scalp four balls later, when Sears dropped Zaman cold, before he had scored.

That life - and another, when Chapman spilled Azam - proved costly indeed, as the master batters proceeded to dismantle the Blackcaps attack. Milne, Santer and Sears conceded 13 runs each off consecutive overs, before Sodhi was torched for 19 off his first. 

Sears and Santner stemmed the flow of runs, Zaman brought up 50 off 23 balls, including five sixes, but chopped Milne onto this stumps two balls later, breaking a partnership that yielded 87 runs off 41 balls.

After his catching heroics in the series opener, Sodhi raced around the fine-leg boundary to accept another off Iftikhar Ahmed, off Sears, as the Pakistan run rate began to fall away.

Wicketkeeper Azam Khan seemed to have clubbed Sodhi over the longon boundary, but was caught on the rope by Mitchell, and the tourists had lost 3/11 in less than three overs.

Kane Williamson in action against Pakistan.
Kane Williamson in action against Pakistan. Photo credit: Photosport

Azam was still there, but he was running out of support, as Jamal charged Sodhi and was stumped by Conway. The veteran brought up his 32nd T20I half-century off 36 balls, then hit sixes off Southee and Santner to rekindle the chase.

The contest effecitvely ended, when Sears hit Azam high on the bat and Southee gratefully completed the catch. Pakistan needed 42 runs off 17 balls, with only three wickets remaining. 

Skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi swung hopefully for a pair of sixes, but could only loft Milne high into the night sky chasing a third, with Southee again underneath for the catch. Mir edged Milne to Conway for a duck, but Rauf denied the bowler a hattrick.

Southee almost finished the job with the opening ball of the final over, but Rauf's edge fell short of Conway. Two balls later, Abbas Afridi swung to fine leg, where Sodhi lurked for an unsighted catch and victory.

New Zealand 194/8 (Allen 74, Williamson 26no, Santner 25; Rauf 3/38) Pakistan 173 (Azam 66, Zaman 50; Milne 4/33)

New Zealand win by 21 runs, lead series 2-0

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