Cricket: Daryl Mitchell, Tim Southee help Blackcaps overpower Pakistan in Twenty20 series opener

The Blackcaps have outmuscled Pakistan to take victory in the first of five Twenty20 Internationals, completing a 46-run victory at Auckland's Eden Park.

Asked to bat first, half-centuries to Daryl Mitchell (61) and Kane Williamson (57) guided New Zealand to an impressive 226/8, setting a new record for the most runs in a T20 against Pakistan.  

While Pakistan were able to keep in touching distance of the required run rate, only Babar Azam (57) could make a significant contribution to the tourists' scorecard, as they ran out of batters.

With the ball, the Blackcaps seamers shared the wickets, highlighted by Tim Southee (4/25), who become the first man to reach 150 T20 International wickets.

Southee's efforts came in the absence of allrounder Mitchell Santner, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday morning.

Tim Southee became the first man to pass 150 T20 International wickets.
Tim Southee became the first man to pass 150 T20 International wickets. Photo credit: Photosport

The opening match comes as part of New Zealand's run-in towards the Twenty20 World Cup in the West Indies and USA, with Australia also visiting by the end of the summer and a tour to Pakistan later this year.  

In his first match as Pakistan's T20 captain, Shaheen Shah Afridi's decision to bowl first appeared to be a masterstroke, when Devon Conway fell for a first-ball duck, spooning a catch to cover. 

At the other end, Finn Allen made sure that any early momentum didn't go Pakistan's way. Fresh from successive half-centuries for Auckland in the Super Smash, Allen hit Shaheen's second over for 24 - including three fours and two sixes.

He continued into the next over, clearing the ropes again off Aamer Jamal, and was fortunate to survive, when he was bowled by a no-ball with the next delivery.  

Allen's night came to an end on 34, when a perfect slower ball from debutant Abbas Afridi (3/34) saw him caught at midwicket by Jamal.

Pakistan could have inflicted further hurt on a New Zealand batting order weakened by the absence of Santner, but gave Williamson not one, but two lives, firstly on nine and then on 39.

To rub salt into the wound, that second dropped catch was immediately followed by Mitchell clearing the boundary twice in succession.

Mitchell's third six, straight down the ground off Jamal, raised the 50-run stand with Williamson, who passed 50 himself from 40 balls.

Trying to increase the scoring rate, Williamson fell to Abbas, when he holed out to longon, out for 57 from 42 balls at 128/3.

Williamson's dismissal didn't slow Mitchell, who reached his half-century from only 22 balls, with four sixes and one solitary boundary.

Shaheen returned in the final overs and immediately saw the end of Mitchell, who holed out to deep midwicket for a blistering 61 from just 27 balls.

Despite a late flurry of wickets, a Mark Chapman cameo (26 off 11) took the total past 200, as the Blackcaps posted their second-highest T20 total at Eden Park and set a target of more than 11 runs per over for victory.

Ever the welcoming hosts, they gave lives to both Pakistan openers, as Williamson gave Saim Ayub a life on 12, while Matt Henry did the same to Mohammad Rizwan on one.

Ayub responded by taking Henry's opening over for 17 runs, but his night was ended by Adam Milne, who produced a spectacular runout at the non-striker's end off his own bowling.  

Undeterred, Pakistan raised their 50 inside the powerplay, taking just 24 balls to knock off nearly a quarter of their target.  

The Blackcaps struck again before the end of the first six overs, when Rizwan skied a chance that was excellently held by Conway with the gloves, as Pakistan completed the powerplay at 64/2.

Even as the field went out, Pakistan continued to attack, with Fakhar Zaman (15) hitting the north stand roof with a massive six, but the next over saw his exit, as Ish Sodhi (1/33) held onto a caught-and-bowled effort, diving away to his left.  

Reaching the halfway point at 109/3, Pakistan needed 118 from the final 10 overs and that added scoring pressure accounted for Iftikhar Ahmed, who perished for 24, trying to hook Southee, as Sodhi hung onto the catch at short fine leg.

Babar stood as Pakistan's last hope and reached a half-century in 33 balls, shortening the equation to 68 runs needed from the final five overs.

Williamson atoned for his early drop, when he pulled off a diving effort to remove Azam Khan (10) off Milne (2/50), with Shaheen promoting himself to No.7 as a pinchhitter for the final overs.

That experiment failed, as the Pakistan skipper lasted just one ball, before edging his second to Conway.

Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson both scored half-centuries.
Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson both scored half-centuries. Photo credit: Photosport

Needing 54 off 23 balls, Babar's lone hand came to an end, as Ben Sears (2/42) removed Pakistan's talisman for 57 off 35 and all but ended the visitors' chances in the 17th over. Sears and Williamson combined again four balls later, when Usama Mir holed out at midoff.

Already the most prolific bowler in T20 internationals, Southee's milestone came when Abbas sliced a slower ball to Henry at deep point, before Haris Rauf was the final man to fall, caught by Mark Chapman at point two balls later for wicket No.151.  

The Blackcaps can take a 2-0 advantage in the best-of-five series, when game two is played at Hamilton's Seddon Park on Sunday.  

New Zealand 226/8 (Mitchell 61, Williamson 57; Abbas 3/34) Pakistan 180 (Babar 57; Southee 4/25)

New Zealand win by 46 runs

Join Newshub at 7:10pm Sunday for live updates of the second Blackcaps v Pakistan T20