Iftikhar Ahmed hit a winning six on the last ball he faced against New Zealand in Christchurch on Friday and Mohammad Nawaz scored an impressive 38 of 22 balls to steer Pakistan to a five-wicket victory in the T20 tri-series final.
Chasing 164 against the runners-up of last year’s World Cup, Pakistan’s middle order came good to secure victory with three balls to spare and clinch the tri-series which also included Bangladesh.
Put into bat, New Zealand lost both their openers in the first six powerplay overs though they continued to score at a healthy rate.
Skipper Kane Williamson top-scored for them with a crafty 59 while Glenn Phillips (29) and Mark Chapman (25) chipped in with cameos to lay the foundation for a big total.
Pakistan, however, bowled brilliantly in the back end of the New Zealand innings, conceding only 33 runs in the last five overs to restrict the hosts to a modest total.
The tourists lost skipper Babar Azam (15) in the powerplay but Mohammad Rizwan, currently the top-ranked T20 batter, made 34 to keep them on course.
Pakistan went into the tri-series with questions around their middle order but Haider Ali blasted 31 and Mohammad Nawaz (38) and Iftikhar Ahmed (25) produced unbeaten cameos to ease those concerns and seal a comfortable victory.
“The way the middle order played was outstanding,” Babar said after the win.
“Haider and Nawaz are outstanding, we needed to step up and perform.”
New Zealand counterpart Williamson said they tried their best to defend a “competitive” total but Pakistan’s middle order made the difference.
“Credit for the way Pakistan middle order came out and changed momentum, because it wasn’t easy for guys coming in to try and get the rhythm of the surface,” Williamson said.
Nawaz was named the player of the match for his unbeaten 38 runs off 22 balls.
New Zealand: Devon Conway, Finn Allen, Kane Williamson (capt), Glenn Phillips, Michael Bracewell, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Blair Tickner, Ish Sodhi
Pakistan: Babar Azam (capt), Mohammad Rizwan, Shan Masood, Iftikhar Ahmed, Shadab Khan, Haider Ali, Asif Ali, Mohammad Nawaz, Mohammad Wasim, Naseem Shah, Haris Rauf Umpires: Alex Wharf (ENG), Shaun Haig (NZL) TV Umpire: Wayne Knights (NZL) Match Referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL)