Fast bowler Haris Rauf compiled a career-best 4-22 to help Pakistan rally for a five-wicket victory over injury-hit New Zealand on Tuesday at the T20 World Cup.
Rauf’s variations kept New Zealand to 134-8 in its opening Group 1 game after Pakistan skipper Babar Azam won the toss and opted to field.
The experience of Shoaib Malik (27 not out) and power-hitting of Asif Ali (27 not out) then quashed New Zealand’s hopes of a late comeback and carried Pakistan to 136-5 in 18.4 overs to earn the team its second victory in three days.
Asif smashed two late sixes in Tim Southee’s one over and then hoisted Trent Boult over wide mid-on for a six before scampering for two runs at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium.
“It’s always good to win. We’ll take this confidence forward in the tournament,” Pakistan skipper Babar Azam said. “The way Shaheen (Afridi) and especially Haris Rauf bowled was very impressive.”
Pakistan beat India, one of the tournament favorites, by 10 wickets on Sunday. The team has three more games to go against Afghanistan, Namibia and Scotland and is now among the contenders for a place in the semifinals.
New Zealand missed fast bowler Lockie Fergusion, who was ruled out of the tournament because of a torn calf before the game. The ICC later approved Adam Milne as the replacement for Ferguson.
Southee got Babar (9) early for his 100th wicket in T20s when he knocked back the middle stump in the sixth over.
Legspinner Ish Sodhi (2-28) then trapped Fakhar Zaman (11) and Mohammad Rizwan (33) leg before wicket off his sharp turners, In between those strikes, Devon Conway made a two-handed diving catch in the deep to the dismay of Mohammad Hafeez (11).
And when Boult nailed Imad Wasim lbw, Pakistan still needed 48 runs off the last 31 balls. But Asif used his power-hitting and also braved a sharp bouncer from Southee which struck him on the helmet.
“It’s very disappointing at the end,” Williamson said. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t nail things towards the back end, but we were up against a very good side in Pakistan and congratulations to them.”
He also warned rivals of Pakistan’s firepower in the ICC T20 World Cup as the Men in Green have been dominating in the ongoing tournament in the UAE.
Earlier, Rauf was equally good with the new and old ball after Shaheen Afridi started by bowling a maiden over to Martin Guptill.
Rauf hails from Rawalpindi, the city where New Zealand abandoned its limited-overs tour to Pakistan because of a security threat last month minutes before the toss in the first ODI.
Rauf made an immediate impact off his second delivery when he beat Guptill with pace as the ball rattled the stumps after deflecting off the batsman’s pads in the sixth over.
New Zealand tried to accelerate against the spinners with Conway (27) smashing three straight boundaries in legspinner Shadab Khan’s one over before Hasan Ali ran out Williamson (25) in the 13th over.
Rauf returned in the late overs and had the wickets of Conway and Glenn Phillips (13), and then rounded off the spell by having Mitchell Santner clean bowled off the last delivery.