Cricket: Blackcaps batters implode in Twenty20 series finale, as Pakistan avoid series whitewash

The Blackcaps have missed the chance to whitewash Pakistan, as the visitors avoided embarrassment with a face-saving 42-run victory in the Twenty20 International series finale in Christchurch.  

Chasing 135 for victory and a 5-0 sweep, the Blackcaps could only reply with 92 all out, as a side missing a host of key players struggled to get near their target.

Without Kane Williamson (injured), Devon Conway (COVID) and Daryl Mitchell (rested), the Blackcaps struggled with the bat, and failed to back up another impressive display from the bowlers.  

Pakistan's spinners were the architects of New Zealand's downfall, namely part-timer Iftikhar Ahmed, who took 3/24 from his four overs to rout the Blackcaps' middle order to claim man-of-the-match honours. 

After being asked to bowl first, an all-in effort from the Kiwi attack restricted Pakistan to just 134/8 on a used wicket.

The Blackcaps bowlers restricted Pakistan to just 134/8 in Christchurch.
The Blackcaps bowlers restricted Pakistan to just 134/8 in Christchurch. Photo credit: Getty Images

Tim Southee led the way with 2/19 from his four overs, while Ish Sodhi (2/22), Lockie Ferguson (2/24) and Matt Henry (2/30) also grabbed two wickets apiece with the ball.

But from 54/2 in reply, the hosts lost 8/39, and left Glenn Phillips having to try to rescue victory from the jaws of defeat.  

However, once he fell to Pakistan captain Shaheen Shah Afridi (2/20) for 26, and Ferguson the next ball for a golden duck, the Blackcaps were forced to settle for a 4-1 scoreline.

It took Southee just three balls to land the first blow, when debutant Haseebullah Khan was caught at point by Phillips for a duck in his first taste of international cricket.  

The Blackcaps could have made it two early strikes, when Babar Azam appeared to have holed out to deep midwicket off Matt Henry on zero - only for Mark Chapman to drop the catch.

Despite the life, though, Babar struggled to find the touch that sees him second to only Finn Allen in the series' run-scoring charts.  

At the end of the power play, Pakistan had just 29/1 on the board, with Babar a pained four from 15 balls.  

Babar was given another life in the next over, dropped by Chapman for a second time, before his luck finally ran out on 13 off 24 when he holed out to Phillips at midwicket.

His exit left Pakistan in a hole, with just 53/2 from the first 10 overs.

Pakistan appeal for the wicket of Tim Seifert.
Pakistan appeal for the wicket of Tim Seifert. Photo credit: Getty Images

Fakhar Zaman entered at No.4, and immediately took the attack to Lockie Ferguson, with two huge sixes in the 11th over to reignite the innings.  

The left-hander cleared the ropes again off Southee, but perished two balls later when he hit a slower ball to Ferguson at long-off.

Mohammad Nawaz came and went for just one, caught by Southee off Sodhi, before the Blackcaps snared the big fish when Mohammad Rizwan pulled Henry straight to Rachin Ravindra for a-run-a-ball 38, as Pakistan fell from 88/2 to 91/5.

In the 16th over, Pakistan finally raised their 100, but lost Iftikhar for five in the next over, when he hit Ferguson to Will Young at mid-off.  

Some late hitting from Sahibzada Farhan (19) and Abbas Afridi (14 not out) at the very least ensured the Blackcaps would have to chase more than a run a ball, but Pakistan's total of 134 hardly stood out as a total New Zealand should fear.  

In reply, the Blackcaps lost both openers inside the power play.  

Ravindra fell for one in the second over when he was caught at point by Zaman Khan off Nawaz, before the dangerous Finn Allen (22) went when Haseebullah marked his debut with a fantastic low catch at mid-on.

At 30/2, Will Young joined Tim Seifert, but the pair struggled to bat with any fluency in a partnership worth 23 runs in 27 balls.

Young perished looking to up the scoring rate, and holed out for 12 off 11 balls when he gave Nawaz a second, courtesy of a juggling catch by Iftikhar.  

Needing 81 from the last 10 overs, Chapman's poor day out was complete at 54/4, when he was run out for a single, before Seifert followed for a 30-ball 19 when he was trapped LBW by Iftikhar.

In serious trouble at 64/5, and needing 71 from 42, captain Mitchell Santner added just four before he was caught and bowled by Usama Mir, as Henry suffered the same fate against Iftikhar.  

Four balls later, Sodhi became Iftikhar's third at 72/8, and left Glenn Phillips needing to do the bulk of the work in the final five overs to get New Zealand home against all odds.

Until Phillips hit Iftikhar for four through cover, the Blackcaps had gone 49 balls without finding the boundary, and followed it up with a six over midwicket.  

But with 43 needed from the last three overs, captain Shaheen sealed Pakistan's win with the wicket of Phillips, caught on the mid-wicket boundary for 26.

One ball later it was all over, as Shaheen re-arranged Ferguson's stumps, and assured Pakistan could leave Aotearoa with at least one victory.

The Blackcaps will now prepare for two tests against a heavily depleted South Africa next month, before the white-ball side resume their preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup with a three-match series against Australia.  

Pakistan 134/8 (Rizwan 38, Fakhar 33; Southee 2/19, Sodhi 2/22) 
New Zealand 92 all out (Phillips 26; Iftikhar 3/24)

Pakistan win by 42 runs