Babar, Afridi, and Usama Lead Pakistan to Series-Leveling Victory 2-2 Over New Zealand

Pakistan’s cricket stars Babar Azam, Shaheen Shah Afridi, and Usama shines as Pakistan level the T20I series against New Zealand at 2-2.

Despite Seifert’s half-century and Clarkson’s late surge for an unexpected victory, New Zealand was unable to go over the line.

Babar, Afridi, and Usama Lead Pakistan to Series-Leveling Victory 2-2 Over New Zealand

New Zealand 169 (Seifert 52, Shaheen 4-30, Usama 2-21) was defeated by Pakistan 178 for 5 (Babar 69, Fakhar 43, Neesham 1-13) by 9 runs.

Even though it got a little hairy towards the end, Pakistan narrowly prevailed by 9 runs to tie the T20I series 2-2 and preserve some pride in the series. Pakistan reached 178 for the third time in this series after Babar Azam’s 43-ball 69 and Fakhar Zaman’s late pyrotechnics. Pakistan’s first innings total was 178.

However, Pakistan’s bowlers struck back hard in the second half of that chase, with 4-30 from Shaheen Shah Afridi and crucial middle-overs strikes from Usama Mir derailing a chase that had looked on course until the eight-over mark. New Zealand looked like they would make short work of the chase despite the early loss of Tom Blundell. Josh Clarkson’s unbeaten 38 from 26 balls maintained New Zealand’s interest until the very end, but he would run out of partners with two quick run-outs in the final over as Pakistan prevailed in a close match.

There’s little question that the impact of Pakistan’s captain’s knock on the country today was overwhelmingly good, even though it may not have resolved any of the country’s issues or addressed the root causes of the criticism Babar faces. Saim Ayub has had trouble scoring runs this series, and his early removal put Babar in a more prominent position during this Powerplay. He celebrated by attacking Ben Sears and Zak Foulkes, scoring 30 off just 15.

Crucially, Babar held one end up, kept the runs coming in, and looked excellent doing it. There was also no noticeable drop after the Powerplay. Fakhar Zaman took his time to settle in and hit a massive six off Ish Sodhi to ensure that the visitors couldn’t put too much pressure on Pakistan. By the time Sears cleaned him up with a beautiful yorker, the infrastructure needed for Pakistan to launch had been put in place.

Was it right for Fakhar to be removed before the most explosive part of his innings began? Tim Seifert most definitely believed so. Fakhar attempted to loft the ball towards midwicket but was beaten by a slower delivery. He was also careless as he got back into shape, hanging his bat loosely behind him as it tipped the bails off.

The third umpire determined that the ball was dead by the time it was referred upstairs after New Zealand filed an appeal. Fakhar hammered 14 off the following three balls to set Pakistan up for a massive finish, adding to New Zealand’s despair. After Shadab entered the game, the hosts were able to seize 39 runs in the final three overs and some of the momentum at the midway point.

Pakistan has largely engaged in a well-known argument this series regarding the most effective way to use the Powerplay. Tim Robinson, the New Zealand opener, gave them an idea of how to approach it two days earlier. Today, Seifert, his replacement, provided another nearly flawless illustration of it.

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After Pakistan had maintained tight conditions for the first three overs, Seifert launched when Mohammad Amir entered the bowl. After he took the leg cutter early and clobbered ball over long-on for an enormous six, he added two boundaries that ignited the visiting team.

Abbas Afridi also witnessed a ball being fired off the ground for his maiden delivery and a loose ball being clipped around a fine leg. Seifert hammered Amir for three boundaries off the back foot, setting him up for a 30-ball half-century. Amir would return for more punishment. The game didn’t change until he was out; by then, New Zealand had accelerated to 81 in eight overs. Usama’s time to make an impression was rapidly ebbing away after his disastrous fourth game and Pakistan’s abundance of legspin possibilities. Though runs were falling all around him, he had set a strong foundation by giving up just three runs in the opening over. Now, however, it was his chance to shine.

Babar, Afridi, and Usama Lead Pakistan to Series-Leveling Victory 2-2 Over New Zealand

Seifert attempted to plod it over the onside but lost his balance, upsetting his furniture in the process. The game would ultimately turn around on a wicket maiden as Mir bowled Chapman out in his next over. Pakistan quickly penetrated New Zealand’s lower order thanks to wickets from Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim in the next two overs.

With two wickets in two balls, Shaheen would have his say and effectively end the match as New Zealand lost 6-40 in 39 balls. Clarkson’s best-laid plans would not save them from that onslaught of body blows, and Pakistan would hold on for a series draw.

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