CHRISTCHURCH: Pakistan’s spin bowlers dominated New Zealand, securing a consolation 42-run victory in the fifth and final Twenty20 international on Sunday to prevent a series whitewash.
Despite losing the series 4-1, the tourists ended on a positive note by dismissing the Black Caps for a mere 92 in their defense of 134-8.
Part-time offspinner Iftikhar Ahmed delivered a career-best performance, claiming figures of 3-24, as a depleted New Zealand batting lineup struggled against the turning ball, resulting in their eighth-lowest T20 total.
Only opener Finn Allen (22) and Glenn Phillips (26) managed to surpass 20 runs, as Pakistan impressively took the last eight wickets for just 39 runs, showcasing their best bowling display of the series.
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-18) made an impact with the new ball by dismissing Rachin Ravindra and Will Young early on. Captain Shaheen Shah Afridi also had a positive ending to his maiden series, taking 2-20.
New Zealand, missing key players Kane Williamson (knee injury), Devon Conway (Covid-19), and Daryl Mitchell (rested), faced challenges with their batting lineup.
In the earlier innings, despite a disciplined bowling effort by the home side, Pakistan’s batsmen were restricted. Seamers Tim Southee, Matt Henry, and Lockie Ferguson, along with spinner Ish Sodhi, all claimed two wickets each.
Southee, the leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket, played a crucial role by dismissing debutant Haseebullah Khan in the opening over and later removing the dangerous Fakhar Zaman in the 13th over.
Although the top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan contributed 38 off 38 balls, Pakistan ended up with their lowest first-innings score of the series.