After blowing hot and cold in the warm-up matches where they beat arch-rivals India but lost to England, Pakistan get ready for serious business today. They take on New Zealand, who, after having handing Bangladesh a 59-run thrashing, start the match very much in the ascendancy. Mohammad Hafeez's men, meanwhile, will look to hit their straps immediately if they are avoid a possible knockout situation in their next game against Bangladesh.
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Pakistan win by 14 runs. Ajmal, once again, struck crucial blows and even though there were some scares for Pakistan, the chase was too much for New Zealand. For Pakistan the most heartening bit would be their batting. Captain Hafeez and Jamshed put their side into a solid position and the rest of the order contribute in bits. Afridi got a few out of the middle but looked like he was back to his best with the ball. the unsung hero, though, was Hafeez who scored 43 and gave away just 15 from his 4 overs. Tanvir and Gul could do well with a few extra sessions with Mohammad Akram. Yasir Arafat too seemed harmless, so possible changes for the Bangladesh game?
WICKET- Southee edges Ajmal to short third.
Ajmal bowling the last over. 19 off it. First two deliveries fetch only one run.
WICKET- Great throw from Umar Akmal at the boundary gets rid of the dangerous Taylor.
18: 09 PST
BOUNDARY: Taylor gets three boundaries off Gul, first an edge through third man and then two exquisite shots on the off and leg sides.
WICKET- Tanvir gets his man. Oram tries to paddle-pull a slower one but hits it straight to Jamshed.
BOUNDARY- Franklin tonks Tanvir for a six and a four off consecutive balls to bring the match well within their grasp.
BOUNDARY- Taylor smashed Ajmal over long on for a big six. 47 off 18 now.
WICKET- Oram goes. Ajmal deceives another lefty in typical fashion, it is the change in trajectory that is so amazing. Franklin to join Taylor now. NZ still in this.
BOUNDARY- Oram plays a smart little scoop before top edging Gul towards third man. Two boundaries. Much needed for the Kiwis. NZ 121/4 in 16.
WICKET- Umar Gul takes another T20 wicket. Full, straight and the ball eventually rolls onto the stumps. The dangerous McCullum goes.
BOUNDARY- McCullum reverse sweeps Ajmal over short third man.
WICKET- Ajmal gets the breakthrough. Vettori hits it straight to Hafeez at midoff. Oram now in, possible also because Pakistan seem to be struggling against the lefties a bit. Ross Taylor still in the shed.
Hafeez replaces Ajmal. Appeal for stumping, Vettori survives.
BOUNDARY- Vettori chips Afridi over his head for four. NZ 92/6 in 13. Vettori's promotion seems like a very smart move so far as he has put Afridi's radar off a bit.
BOUNDARY- McCullum picks Ajmal for two boundaries, first a reverse sweep and then a cover drive which Jamshed makes a mess of on the boundary.
Ajmal into the attack. Afridi has been quite unplayable today and it will be interesting to see how this pans out.
WICKET- Williamson goes after a bit of a mix up with McCullum. Vettori now walks in. Interesting choice but a very smart one considering the former Kiwi captain's record against Pakistan and the fact that he is left handed. He will also keep things moving. Chappell not amused with the batting-order shift. "I don't understand this theory of sending bowlers over proper batsmen," he says. Vettori has a test average of 43.85, 17.20 in ODIs and 18 in T20s against Pakistan.
WICKET- Afridi goes through Nicol who tries to cut, not the wisest of shots. The drift is back for Afridi.
BOUNDARY- Afridi into the attack and Williamson edges him through short third-man for four.
BOUNDARY- New Zealand have smacked 4 boundaries and a six in their powerplay so far. Hafeez is sticking with pace and on this completely flat track it seems that may not be the ideal way to go. Ajmal or Malik should be introduced soon if Pakistan are to find a way to stem this flow of runs. NZ 47/0 in 6 overs.
BOUNDARY- Nicol picks Tanvir over the long-on boundary. Effortless shot. Sign of things to come?