Pakistan take home T20 series
by Jinu Sabastian

Ground:Dubai Sports City Stadium, Dubai
Scorecard:Pakistan v New Zealand
Player:Shahid Afridi, GD Franklin, BB McCullum, SB Styris
Event:New Zealand in United Arab Emirates 2009/10

DateLine: 13th November 2009


Pakistan did well to put down the last minute surge by New Zealand to win a close encounter and with it the T20 series. Chasing a competitive target of 153 in 20 overs, New Zealand did not get the ideal start as they lost early wickets. New Zealand were boosted by that stand between McCullum and Styris, but the acceleration came a little too late. Ajmal bowled a superb penultimate over giving away just five runs including the wicket of McCullum and Styris was left with too many to get in the last over.


Afridi after winning the toss elected to bat first believing that his team could bat the opposition out of the game. Nazir got the innings off the mark with a disdainful slap over covers and then a pull which had contempt written all over it. With the opening bowlers tightening the things up the openers improvised to score and they did it with fair amount of success. Southee leaked three fours in an over and McCullum brought in Ian Butler. The move worked immediately when a slow yorker disturbed Nazir's furniture and in his second over trapped Kamran Akmal leg-before to give the Kiwis a breather.


Afridi and Umar staged a quick recovery as the pair added 45 in 5.2 overs as they wrested back the initiative. New Zealand managed to pick up two more wickets but Umar was pacing his innings beautifully setting the stage up for the final flourish. Initially he focussed on rotating the strike, but after the fall of wickets he opened up. He lofted Styris for a massive six, guided Franklin past the keeper and then slapped Bond through backward point to display an impressive array of shots. He saw Pakistan through to the end with an unbeaten 56 that pushed the target beyond 150.


New Zealand in reply could not get off to a flying start as the Pakistani opening bowlers, Aamer and Tanvir, kept a tight leash on the Kiwi batsmen. Watling, opening the innings with McCullum, was back in the pavilion courtesy to a stunning catch by Akmal behind the stumps. Guptill tried to keep the Kiwis abreast with the required run-rate and it looked like he along with McCullum was putting the innings back on track. Gul ended his stay when he forced the batsman to inside edge one onto his stumps. Taylor slammed a huge six over long-on but Afridi proved too wily for Taylor as he was trapped leg-before with a quicker one.


Styris joined McCullum in the middle and the pair slowly put some momentum back into the innings. The pair added 5o runs for the fourth wicket taking their own time and finally opened up in the 18th over bowled by Aamer. Styris deposited the left-armer into the deep midwicket stand and then McCullum joined the party by scooping the same bowler into the fine-leg boundary. Afridi was relying on Ajmal to choke the batsmen and he did not disappoint the skipper. He managed to prize-out McCullum who holed out in the deep and then gave away just five runs in the over to put the pressure back on the Kiwis.


With 18 required to win in the last six balls, Gul was entrusted with the job of bowling the last over. Gul aimed for the block-hole but Styris managed to connect it cleanly and send the ball rocketing into the long-off fence to bring down the equation to 12 off five balls. Franklin tried to repeat the act two balls later but could only find Shoaib Malik at the long-on fence who appeared to take a low catch. There was some confusion as to whether the catch was clean or not and after some inconclusive replays the decision was given in favour of Franklin. That did not affect the outcome of the match as Gul was able to keep the batsmen quiet with another set off full-length deliveries and in the end helping Pakistan win the match by seven runs and with it the two match T20 series.


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