World T20: Kamran, Hafeez take Pakistan to a nervy-win
Kamran Akmal and Mohammad Hafeez made the difference with stroke-filled half-centuries to guide Pakistan to a nervy six-wicket win that came in the penultimate ball over New Zealand in their first ICC World Twenty20 warm-up game at Sher-e-Bangla National Stadium here Monday.
Kamran (52 in 45 balls) and Hafeez (55 in 39) piled on the misery for New Zealand with an 83-run second-wicket stand after Pakistan's pacers had restricted New Zealand to 145 for nine. The two got together at 38 for 1 in the fourth over and took Pakistan within kissing distance of the target before Sohaib Maqsood (16 not out in eight balls) hit a boundary to take Pakistan past the target.
Kamran batted with great ease and eventually retired on 52 to make way for the middle-order batsmen to get a hit. Hafeez, who raced his way to a half-century in the 14th over, dropped his guard after getting to the landmark and Nathan McCullum got the better off him, but by then Pakistan had gotten to within 22 runs of the target with four overs left.
New Zealand, however, made it tough at that stage by giving away just five runs in two overs and even snaring the wicket of Umar Akmal, but Maqsood's cameo, with three hits to the fence, sealed the game for Pakistan.
Earlier, Brendon McCullum led the New Zealand essay with an unbeaten 59 from 45 balls after winning the toss and opting to bat.
On a dry wicket that was expected to generate turn, Mohammad Talha, the right-arm paceman, made early inroads sending both the New Zealand openers, Kane Williamson and Martin Guptill, back in the hut within four overs.
Brendon McCullum got off the mark with a huge pull for a six over the midwicket fence off Sohail Tanvir and, two overs later, walked down the track to Zulfiqar Babar to hit a six over long-on. Ross Taylor's stay at the crease was brief, but Colin Munro (20) put on 32 runs with Brendon McCullum to somewhat steady the ship before Bilawal Bhatti had him miscuing a pull to Maqsood at deep mid-wicket.
From there on it was a one-man show as Brendon McCullum anchored the innings, bringing up his half-century along the way, even as wickets tumbled at the other end. Umar Gul's twin strikes in the 14th over triggered a lower-order collapse, as New Zealand had to settle for a total lower than it would have planned at the halfway stage.
Pakistan play its second and final warm-up game against South Africa in Fatullah Wednesday, while New Zealand square off against Australia on the same day.
(Posted on 17-03-2014)
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