World T20: Pakistan beat New Zealand to remain unbeaten
SUMMARY: New Zealand 134-8 from 20 overs (Daryl Mitchell 27, Devon Conway 27, Kane Williamson 25; Haris Rauf 4-22, Mohammed Hafeez 1-16, Shaheen Shah Afridi 1-21, Imad Wasim 1-24) vs Pakistan 135-5 from 18.4 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 33, Asif Ali 27*, Shoaib Malik 26*; Ish Sodhi 2-28)
A sensational and brutal partnership between Shoaib Malik and Asif Ali guided Pakistan to their second Men’s T20 World Cup victory in three days.
After emphatically thrashing rivals India by 10 wickets, Pakistan edged a nervy game against New Zealand to win by five wickets in Sharjah.
Chasing 135, Shoaib and Asif shared 48 to seal success with eight balls left. New Zealand, playing their first game in Group 2, were restricted to 134-8 with Haris Rauf taking 4-22.
Asif, who twice had medical attention for concussion-like symptoms after top-edging a Tim Southee bouncer into his helmet, made an unbeaten 27 off just 12 balls, including three sixes.
His 23-ball partnership with Shoaib, who made 26 off 20, saw them home and boosted Pakistan’s semi-final hopes with games against Afghanistan, Namibia and Scotland to come.
Black Caps pace bowler Lockie Ferguson has been ruled out of the tournament with a calf tear.
They are now waiting approval for Adam Milne, who was the leading wicket-taker in the men’s Hundred this summer, to be able to replace Ferguson in their 15-man squad.
Asif and Shoaib shine
There were hopes for another high-scoring game after Afghanistan made 190 at Sharjah on Monday but this game was a return to the slower pitches that we saw regularly throughout the Indian Premier League when it took place in the UAE.
Despite that, a target of 135 felt well within Pakistan’s reach, especially after their demolition job of India. But when Asif walked out with five wickets down, they required 48 from 31 balls and Shoaib – who has now been not out in 18 winning international chases – was only nine balls into his innings.
Asif, who only averages 16.38 in international T20s, smashed his first ball for four through point before seizing control of the game in the 17th over.
He planted Southee over long-off, before going straighter next ball, as he pulled the required run-rate down to almost a run-a-ball.
The 30-year-old struggled following his head injury, but pulled another massive six over mid-wicket, with the next ball after receiving treatment, in a quite magnificent show of bravery and courage.
Shoaib, 39, was a late call-up for the tournament, but justified that by using all of his experience at the other end to rotate the strike and find the boundaries with the bad balls. (BBC Sport)