- Shaheen is pleased his first stint as captain ended on winning note.
- I think today we played as a team, says Pakistan captain.
- We’re just checking out every spot for every player, he says.
CHRISTCHURCH: Skipper Shaheen Shah Afridi is relieved as Pakistan win the “very important” final Twenty20I of the five-match series against New Zealand avoiding a whitewash series loss.
The Black Caps capitulated for 92 in the face of some quality Pakistan spin bowling, having been favoured to chase down the tourists’ 134-8. The hosts lost the match by 42 runs.
Pakistan lost the five-match series 4-1 but Shaheen was pleased his first stint as captain had ended on a winning note, after being outplayed through the first four games.
He said the series was primarily seen as a chance to build towards the T20 World Cup in June but it would have been a setback to lose five from five.
“Today’s game was very important for us. We needed that as a unit to step forward,” Shaheen said.
“In the first four games, there were a lot of collapses, as a fielding unit, as a batting unit, but I think today we played as a team and we needed that win.
“It’s not easy for any team to come here. And I think our mind is on the World Cup. We’re just checking out every spot for every player and giving chances to youngsters.”
Part-time off-spinner Iftikhar Ahmed was handed the ball for the first time in the series and produced career-best figures of 3-24 against a weakened New Zealand batting lineup, who scored their second-lowest T20 total on home soil.
Only opener Finn Allen (22) and Glenn Phillips (26) passed 20 as Pakistan claimed the last eight wickets for 39 runs.
Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-18) was effective with the new ball, while Shaheen claimed 2-20.
New Zealand were missing three of their first-choice batters: Kane Williamson (knee injury), Devon Conway (Covid-19) and Daryl Mitchell (rested).
Captain Mitchell Santner said their poor chase exposed some chinks.
“We’ve looked pretty good batting first and defending but, looking at today, we may need a bit of work chasing,” he said.
“In a chase like that, we talk about taking it as deep as we can and we didn’t do that.
“But all in all a pretty good series. There were good signs, different guys stepping up at different times and that’s what you want.”
Earlier, it appeared the home side had done enough to push for a clean sweep through another disciplined bowling display.
Seamers Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson all claimed two scalps, along with spinner Ish Sodhi.
Veteran Southee (2-19) dismissed debutant Haseebullah Khan in an opening maiden over and returned in the 13th over to remove the dangerous Fakhar Zaman, who had raced to 33 off 16 balls.
Top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan departed soon afterwards for 38 off 38.
New Zealand next face a two-Test home series against South Africa while Pakistan’s next international fixtures are five T20s at home to New Zealand in April.