By: Asim Nawaz
New Zealand’s victory over Pakistan in the fifth T20I at Pindi Cricket Stadium on Monday evening was largely due to Mark Chapman’s debut T20I century, which featured an unbroken 121-run partnership with Jimmy Neesham for the fifth wicket. With this win, the series ended at 2-2, with the fourth T20I being abandoned due to rain. The hosts had previously won the first and second T20Is at Gaddafi Stadium, while the visitors won the third T20I at the same venue before winning the final game.
Shaheen Shah Afridi struck early for Pakistan, dismissing New Zealand’s captain Tom Latham on the first ball of their innings while also picking up the wicket of Will Young (4 off 4) in the first over. The visitors were further pushed on the backfoot by Imad Wasim, who bagged the valuable wicket of Chad Bowes (19, 13b, 4x4s) in the fourth over. At 26 for three, New Zealand faced a difficult task in their pursuit of 194 runs. Imad finished with figures of two for 21 in four overs, also taking the wicket of Daryl Mitchell (15 off 18), who had partnered with Mark Chapman to add 47 runs for the fourth wicket.
After New Zealand had scored 73 runs, Jimmy Neesham joined Mark Chapman at the crease, and the two batsmen took on the Pakistani bowlers, scoring runs freely. Despite being dropped by Shadab Khan off Shaheen’s bowling in the 14th over, Chapman went on to make the most of the opportunity and scored his first century in T20I, finishing unbeaten on 104 off 57 balls, with 11 fours and four sixes. Neesham, who is also left-handed, remained unbeaten on 45 off 25, smashing four fours and two sixes. Chapman was named Player of the Match for his impressive performance.
Pakistan were asked to bat first and managed to score 193 for five in their allotted 20 overs. This was thanks in large part to an unbeaten 98 by Mohammad Rizwan, as well as quick contributions from Iftikhar Ahmed and Imad Wasim. The hosts got off to a good start, with the opening partnership of Babar Azam and Rizwan providing another half-century stand. However, Babar (19, 18b, 3x4s) was the first to be dismissed, returning to the pavilion with 51 runs on the board during the batting powerplay.
Following Babar’s dismissal, Pakistan lost two quick wickets, with Mohammad Haris (0 off one ball) and Saim Ayub (0 off two balls) returning to the pavilion in four balls, leaving the scoreboard at 52 for three in 6.2 overs.
At this point, Iftikhar Ahmed joined Rizwan in the middle, and the pair stitched together a partnership of 71 runs off 46 balls. Iftikhar, who almost led Pakistan to victory in the third T20I against New Zealand at the Gaddafi Stadium on Monday evening, scored a quick 36 off 22 balls, including three fours and two sixes, before being dismissed by Blair Tickner, who ended up with match figures of three for 33 in four overs.
After Iftikhar’s dismissal, left-handed Imad Wasim joined Rizwan, and the pair added 68 runs off 34 balls. Imad struck five fours and one six in his 14-ball 31 knock. He was run-out in the final over of the innings while trying to give Rizwan a chance to complete his second T20I century.
Wicketkeeper-batsman Rizwan fell just short of his century, missing it by two runs as he missed an opportunity to score on the final ball of the innings. His innings included seven fours and four sixes, and he scored at a strike rate of 158.06.
Both teams will now compete in a five-match ODI series starting on Thursday, 27 April, at the Pindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi.