Pakistan bag another T20 series

Babar Azam and Mohammad Hafeez played key roles as Pakistan completed their second consecutive series sweep after trouncing New Zealand by 47 runs in the final T20I of the three-match series – after the 3-0 win over Australia – in Dubai on Sunday.

Once half-centuries from Hafeez and Babar took Pakistan to 166 for 3, New Zealand had already lost their grip on the game and ended with 119 before being bowled out in 16.5 overs in their chase. At the end of the second game, Kane Williamson spoke about the Pakistan template that the hosts have executed flawlessly in their consecutive wins. So when Sarfraz Ahmed won the toss and chose to bat, Williamson had a clear idea of the script that would follow: runs on the board and spin strangulation in the middle overs of the second-half.

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New Zealand started well with a new opening bowling pair; both Seth Rance and Tim Southee were exceptional in the first five overs as Pakistan got off to a slow start. Lockie Ferguson benefited from the pressure early on as Fakhar Zaman was bounced out trying to play a rash stroke. Just 33 runs came in the powerplay and the visitors continued the good work till the 11th over.

And then the tide turned. With the introduction of spin, Williamson handed the baton to the Pakistan batsmen to take charge. Hafeez took on Ish Sodhi and struck two consecutive sixes to get going. In the 15th over, Babar took on Colin Munro as Pakistan raced to 112 for 1 at the end of the 15th over. In the process, Babar also crossed the 1000-run mark in T20Is, when on 48, becoming the quickest to the mark. He took 26 innings and broke the record of Virat Kohli who took 27.

Colin de Grandhomme managed to dismiss Babar but not before he had smashed a 58-ball 79. Shoaib Malik chipped in with a handy nine-ball 19, while Hafeez ended unbeaten on 53 to lift Pakistan to a dominant score. Once Munro and Phillips walked out to open, the plan was pretty simple. Munro would try and attack and Phillps needed to get going early and not mount the pressure on his partner. Things deviated from the script just a touch but not in New Zealand’s favour.

Munro was bowled by Faheem Ashraf even before he could open up while Colin de Grandhomme, in at No. 3, was run out leaving the team at 13 for 2. The early jolts were enough to knock the visitors out of the contest.

Williamson took 18 deliveries to get going while Phillips continued to struggle against the challenge as Pakistan kept tightening the noose. When the 50-run stand did come up between the duo, Phillips had managed just nine. The New Zealand captain got to his ninth half-century in the 11th over off 32 balls, but the lack of support from the other end played in Pakistan’s favour.

Brief scores: Pakistan 166/3 in 20 overs (Babar Azam 79, Mohammad Hafeez 53*; Colin de Grandhomme 2-41) beat New Zealand 119 in 16.5 overs (Kane Williamson 60; Shadab Khan 3-30) by 47 runs.

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