A special innings from Finn Allen gave New Zealand an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match T20I series against Pakistan. Allen hammered 16 sixes – the joint-most in the format – to score 137 as New Zealand posted a strong 224 on the board. Chasing the total, Pakistan fell well short of the target to lose by 45 runs and concede the series.
The strong start
Pakistan’s decision to bowl first appeared to backfire after just two overs as Allen cut loose to smash a couple of sixes off Shaheen Afridi. Even though Devon Conway fell early, New Zealand made up in the final over of the powerplay to stun the visitors. Allen took on Haris Rauf for three sixes and a couple of fours in a single over to guide NZ to 67 after six overs. While Mohammad Nawaz and Mohammad Wasim Jr temporarily pulled things back with a couple of tight overs, Allen didn’t take long to break free again. Nawaz was smoked over his head for a six that travelled 107 meters and was pummelled over deep midwicket for another one.
The one-man show
At the halfway stage, New Zealand had 103 on the board and looked well on course to breaching 200. What Pakistan didn’t anticipate is Allen taking power-hitting to new levels. Tim Seifert was a mere spectator at the other end as the opener took charge. Rauf was welcomed back into the bowling attack with another expensive over as Allen hit him for two more sixes that went over 100 meters as the pacer conceded 23 this time. In the following over, Allen brought up his century off just 48 balls before Pakistan finally struck at the other end. Pakistan then kept striking regularly at the death but Allen lit up the sky with more sixes to eventually equal the record in the format. He fell for 137 – the highest by a New Zealander in T20Is as the hosts finished with 224/7.
Did Pakistan stand a chance?
After their powerplay, they looked good to end up with 180 and nothing more. That’s what eventually happened as the batters failed to make an impact. Only 11 came off the opening two overs before Mohammad Rizwan broke the shackles with a six. Tim Southee then forced Saim Ayub to miscue one to give New Zealand an early breakthrough and even though Babar Azam started off in positive fashion, the visitors could only score 52 in the powerplay. With both Rizwan and Babar not renowned for muscling the ball, it was always going to be difficult for Pakistan. Rizwan was stumped for a 20-ball 24 and a few hits from Fakhar Zaman gave the visitors some spark at the halfway mark.
Did that transpire into a fight?
Not at all. In fact, the spark was put off very soon as Fakhar mistimed one off Lockie Ferguson as Pakistan were dealt a huge blow. From thereon, it was just one-way traffic. While Babar brought up another fifty, it was nowhere good enough to challenge New Zealand’s supremacy. He kept losing partners at the other end as well before becoming the sixth victim of the evening. There were a few big blows at the death from the lower order but all they managed to do was keep the losing margin to 45 runs.
Brief scores: New Zealand 224/7 in 20 overs (Finn Allen 137, Tim Seifert 31; Haris Rauf 2/60) beat Pakistan 179/7 in 20 overs (Babar Azam 58; Tim Southee 2/29) by 45 runs