In spite of Iftikhar Ahmed’s excellent knock, all-rounder James Neesham maintained composure in the final over to deliver New Zealand a thrilling four-run victory over Pakistan in the third T20 international on Monday in Lahore.
Ahmed’s lightning-quick 24-ball 60, which Pakistan needed to chase down New Zealand’s 163-5, got them back into the game after they had fallen behind at 88-7.
He smashed a six and a four to lower the goal to five off the final three deliveries in Neesham’s final over, where he needed to score 15 runs to win.
However, Neesham had Ahmed caught at long-on by Daryl Mitchell and then removed last man Haris Rauf in a similar fashion after a dot ball.
Tom Latham, the captain of the visiting team, remarked, “It was a great game and it’s satisfying to get across the line and keep the series alive.”
“I believe that this game will give the entire squad a lot of confidence going forward.
“The three early Pakistan wickets in the powerplay set us up. We pride ourselves on our fielding and keep the bar high every time we set foot into the middle.”
Faheem Ashraf and Ahmed led the comeback as they added 61 runs for the ninth wicket. Ashraf holed out after a 14-ball 27 that included two sixes and as many fours.
Ahmed made three fours and six sixes.
With the win, New Zealand now trails Pakistan in the five-match series, 2-1, after Pakistan won the first two games, also at Lahore, by scores of 88 and 38 runs.
The final two games are scheduled for April 20 and 24 in Rawalpindi.
With the score at just 17, Pakistan lost wickets frequently, with its effective opening combination of Babar Azam (one) and Mohammad Rizwan (six) both gone by the fourth over.
While Rizwan was discovered short of his crease after attempting to take a quick single, Azam was caught at third man off bowler Adam Milne.
Rachin Ravindra, a left-arm spinner, gave Pakistan another shock when he bowled Fakhar Zaman (17) and Imad Wasim for three, while Saim Ayub was caught by Neesham for ten.
Shaheen Shah Afridi was dismissed by Ish Sodhi for six runs, and Shadab Khan was caught by Milne for sixteen runs, leaving Pakistan in ruins.
Ahmed helped the hosts fight back, but they were bowled out on 159 after the final ball.
Pakistani captain Azam stated, “We didn’t bat well enough tonight. “Our bowling has been superb this series, but we kept losing wickets at crucial times, which caused the pressure to keep building throughout the run chase.”
Latham’s 64, which came after New Zealand won the toss, served as the foundation of their innings.
With Mitchell, who smashed a 26-ball 33 and hammered seven fours and two sixes, Latham added 65 runs for the third wicket.
As New Zealand managed to score 51 in the final five overs, Mark Chapman scored 16 not out off nine deliveries.
Shaheen, who was playing in his 50th T20I, concluded with a score of 2-33, and fellow pacer Rauf had a score of 2-31.