KARACHI: Pakistan ended their New Zealand tour on a high after beating the hosts by 18 runs in the final T20I at Mount Maunganui on Sunday to bag the series 2-1 and reclaim the top spot in the shortest-format’s rankings.
Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed, after opting to bat first, trusted his batsmen to set a target and opener Fakhar Zaman once again rose to the occasion with a quick-fire 46 off 36 courtesy five boundaries and one maximum.
After his departure, incoming batsmen made sure the added quick runs to the score, eventually leading the team to 181 in 20 overs for the loss of six wickets.
Leggie Shadab Khan (two for 19 in four overs), assisted by four pacers, then restricted New Zealand to 163-6 in 20 overs to make sure Pakistan don’t travel back home empty handed.
“The way they have played was outstanding. Such spirit was missing in the previous matches. They played as a team and that is how Pakistan has won every time,” former Pakistan off-spinner Saeed Ajmal told The Express Tribune. “It was so good to see them playing utilising all their strengths.”
While commenting on Pakistan regaining the top spot in the T20I rankings, Ajmal said: “The team has gelled well together. Youngsters are supporting each other and this will take the team to new heights.”
We had nothing to lose: Sarfraz
Sarfraz, with a smile on his face, celebrated the victory in his trademark style with his teammates after they beat New Zealand and later said that it was a combined effort.
"Credit goes to my boys,” Sarfraz said in the post-match presentation ceremony. “It's not easy coming back after being 6-0 down. I just told the boys that we have nothing to lose. We're 6-0 down, worse case we'll lose 8-0.”
The 30-year-old was quick to praise opener Fakhar for his great knock up the order. “Fakhar was great today, also the wickets in hand helped us at the end. The way Haris [Sohail], [Umar] Amin batted was excellent. Being number one in the world is all thanks to the hard work of my team and my team management."
This win is special for us: Amir
Left-arm pacer Mohammad Amir, who was announced the man-of-the-series for his economic bowling, said the victory was special for the fans in Pakistan.
“It was a tough tour for us, and this win is special for us, especially after the [5-0 defeat in the] ODI series. I am happy for our fans. In this format we were using our variations. Credit goes to team management because we've been working hard on those techniques. The ODIs didn't go well, but this series win and this award means a lot.”
Batsmen supported bowlers well: Jalaluddin
Former right-arm pacer Jalaluddin identified batsmen’s enhanced performance in the T20Is as the key factor behind the series victory.
“If you set a target of 120 and ask bowlers to defend it, they won’t be able to do that in every match. So, for a better bowling performance, you have to give bowlers a good target to defend. This is what happened in both the T20Is. The batsmen put up a good score especially the openers and then the middle-order continued the momentum of the innings,” Jalaluddin said while talking to The Express Tribune.