Mark Chapman smashed a 57-ball 104* as New Zealand came roaring back, in the match and the series, to share the T20I spoils with Pakistan. The visitors seemed done for in the fifth T20I at Rawalpindi when they were reduced to 73/4 at the half-way mark of New Zealand’s response to 193. But Chapman and James Neesham (45* off 25) joined forces for an unbeaten whirlwind century stand that rendered the chase into a run-a-ball affair in the final two overs. They eventually closed it out with four balls and six wickets to spare.
Looking to close out the series against a depleted side that was missing as many as eight players to IPL duty, Pakistan started well with the ball after Mohammad Rizwan’s 98 had powered them to a strong total. Imad Wasim was excellent once more in the PowerPlay and Shaheen Afridi was back to his first-over exploits by dismissing Tom Latham with the opening delivery and Will Young of the fifth ball of the chase. Daryl Mitchell made a painstaking 15 off 18 before Imad had him succumbing to the scoreboard pressure and holing out to long on.
The comeback began in the 11th over, the first after the drinks interval, when Chapman hit Faheem Ashraf for three fours in a 14-run takedown. The tide turned, the next four overs brought New Zealand 63 runs with every Pakistan strike bowler – Shaheen, Shadab Khan and Haris Rauf – copping punishment at the hands of Chapman and Neesham. Chapman received a reprieve when on 69 as he drilled a high full toss from Shaheen down the ground but Shadab failed to hold on to a running catch despite getting both his hands to the ball.
When Neesham took down Ihsanullah for 18 runs in the 15th over, the equation reduced to a very gettable 44 off 30 balls. And that meant, New Zealand could afford two relatively quiet overs – eight runs each – in the 16th and 17th and still be left to get 28 off the final three. Chapman then crunched three boundaries through the offside off Shaheen to effectively close the game. There was another reprieve for the left-hander on 98 when he mistimed a pull but Shaheen, running back, couldn’t complete the caught & bowled. It allowed Chapman to hare back for a second and complete a deserved hundred.
Earlier in the game, Rizwan had been on the cusp of a century himself but Pakistan seemed too consumed by the milestone that they failed to give their total heft that would have been crucial. Rizwan smashed four sixes – the same number as Chapman – but found only one boundary from his final 13 deliveries faced. At the other end, Imad was dismissed trying to steal a bye to get Rizwan on strike while Faheem settled for a single off the penultimate ball when two had been on offer. As it turned out, Rizwan could not complete the milestone and remained unbeaten on 98.
It was a pity considering it had been an excellent effort from him until the final phase of an innings that saw Babar Azam scratch around to an 18-ball 19 before becoming the first of three batters to be dismissed in the space of four deliveries as Pakistan slipped to 52/3 in the seventh over. Iftikhar Ahmed (36 off 22) and Imad (31 off 14) essayed fine hands but Pakistan, asked to bat first, ended with a total that was just not Chapman proof.
Brief scores: Pakistan 193/5 in 20 overs (Mohammad Rizwan 98, Iftikhar Ahmed 36; Blair Tickner 3-33) lost to New Zealand 194/4 in 19.2 overs (Mark Chapman 104*, James Neesham 45*; Imad Wasim 2-21) by six wickets.