Pakistan wins third T20 for morale boost before tests
NAPIER, New Zealand (AP) - New Test captain Mohammad Rizwan showed his leadership in a bold inning of 89 that led Pakistan to a four-wicket win over New Zealand in the third Twenty20 on Tuesday.
Rizwan will lead Pakistan in the Test series with two games against New Zealand from Sunday in place of the injured Babar Azam.
In Azam's absence, he also opened the eyelashes in all three T20s, 17 in Auckland and 22 in Hamilton, before hitting 59 balls for a first half century and career 89 on Tuesday. Rizwan didn't turn down his previous best time of 33.
With Rizwan's lead, Pakistan beat New Zealand's moderate total of 173-7 with two balls.
Rizwan beat his team in sight of victory when he was eliminated at 171-6 in the final. It took Pakistan three more runs to win with four balls remaining. Iftikhar Ahmed solved the problem by lifting the fourth ball of the last for six, raising Pakistan to 177-6.
New Zealand had already secured the series, but Pakistan's victory at McLean Park puts them in the test series in a much more positive mood.
Pakistan won the throw in all three games, beating first in the first two games. A tactic change on Tuesday to roll on a difficult course first proved successful.
Rizwan bet 40 for the first wicket with Haider Ali (11), then 72 in a partnership with Mohammad Hafeez. Hafeez came off his unbeaten 99 in the second T20 and made 41 of 29 balls with two fours and three sixes.
When he retired, Hafeez was only 12 runs less than Shoaib Malik's record of 2,335 runs for Pakistan in the 1920s.
Pakistan had nervous moments towards the end of the innings, particularly when Tim Southee Faheem sacked Ashraf and Shadab Khan with back-to-back deliveries for a total of 163. Iftikhar survived the hat trick ball and beat the winning runs to an end later.
"We lost the series, but the last game is very important for the next series," said Rizwan. “We wanted to generate energy in this game to get the test game going.
"It is a great honor to be named captain of Pakistan. It is a dream for me and I cannot explain my luck."
New Zealand's innings developed in fits and starts. While partnerships were forged, few held out. The pitch was split in two and the slower ball or cross-seamer was particularly effective against batsmen trying to settle in.
Martin Guptill and Tim Seifert looked strong for the first wicket in a 40-year partnership, but both dropped out after the start.
Guptill, again, was unable to build on a solid start. He made 19 of 16 balls before being caught bowling by Haris Rauf in the middle of Shadab on the fifth round.
Captain Kane Williamson, who completed an unbeaten half-century on Sunday in the second T20 and returned to the New Zealand team after giving birth to his first child, held out just four balls before being bowled for 1 by Faheem. Williamson tried to cut a ball that was too close to him and hacked the ball onto his stump.
After 57 and an unbeaten 84, Seifert was at 35 and confident after hitting two fours and three sixs when he pushed Ashraf forward too hard and was thrown by a ball that retreated through the gate.
Devon Conway made 63 to drive the remainder of the innings. New Zealand were 58-3 in the eighth game when Seifert was eliminated and Conway added 51 with Glenn Phillips (31) to give the innings a stronger foundation.
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