Middle-order counterattack helps Pakistan win T20 tri-series

Pakistan's team pose with the trophy after winning the Twenty20 tri-series final cricket match against New Zealand at Hagley Oval in Christchurch on Friday. Photo: Sanka Vidanagama / AFP

Melbourne: Pakistan beat New Zealand by five wickets in the final of a tri-series in Christchurch on Friday, giving themselves a timely boost ahead of the upcoming Twenty20 World Cup in Australia.

Chasing 164 against the runners-up of last year's World Cup, Pakistan's middle order came good to secure victory with three balls to spare and clinch the tri-series which also included Bangladesh.

Put into bat, New Zealand lost both their openers in the first six powerplay overs though they continued to score at a healthy rate.

Skipper Kane Williamson topscored for them with a crafty 59 while Glenn Phillips (29) and Mark Chapman (25) chipped in with cameos to lay the foundation for a big total.Pakistan, however, bowled brilliantly in the back end of the New Zealand innings, conceding only 33 runs in the last five overs to restrict the hosts to a modest total.

The tourists lost skipper Babar Azam (15) in the powerplay but Mohammad Rizwan, currently the top-ranked T20 batter, made 34 to keep them on course.

Pakistan went into the tri-series with questions around their middle order but Haider Ali blasted 31 and Mohammad Nawaz (38) and Iftikhar Ahmed (25) produced unbeaten cameos to ease those concerns and seal a comfortable victory.

"The way the middle order played was outstanding," Babar said after the win. "Haider and Nawaz are outstanding, we needed to step up and perform."

His New Zealand counterpart Williamson said they tried their best to defend a "competitive" total but Pakistan's middle order made the difference."Credit for the way Pakistan middle order came out and changed momentum, because it wasn't easy for guys coming in to try and get the rhythm of the surface," Williamson said.

Brief score

New Zealand 163 for 7 (Williamson 59, Rauf 2-22, Naseem 2-38) lost to Pakistan 168 for 5 (Nawaz 38*, Rizwan 34, Bracewell 2-14) by 5 wkts

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