Nawaz, Haider star as Pakistan win T20 tri-series final in New Zealand
Pakistan surpass the 164-run target by losing five wickets with three balls to spare
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What could be described as the perfect build-up for the T20 World Cup, Pakistan have outclassed hosts New Zealand by five wickets to win the Twenty20 tri-series final played in Christchurch on Friday, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.
Set a target of 164 runs to win, Pakistan’s middle-order heroes Muhammad Nawaz and Haider pummeled the Kisi bowlers all around the ground to see their side win the final.
Muhammad Nawaz hit a masterly 20-ball 38 runs studded with two fours and three towering sixes. Haider Ali’s 14-ball cameo included power hits of two four and two sixes. Iftikhar Ahmad also chipped in with his 14-ball innings of 25 runs that included one boundary and a six.
Openers Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan were out after scoring 15 and 34 runs respectively. Shan Masood was out for 19.
It was a good sign for Pakistan going into the World Cup in Australia, with an opener against arch-rivals India on October 23.
After the hosts finished on 163-7 at Hagley Oval, spinner Michael Bracewell checked Pakistan's early momentum in the tourists' reply, before Nawaz stepped up with his decisive 38 off 22 balls. Haider Ali also made a useful 31 off 15 balls.
Having also steered Pakistan out of trouble in Thursday's dead-rubber win over Bangladesh, Nawaz produced another stellar innings before Iftikhar Ahmed sealed victory with a six in the final over.
"I just backed myself when I came on yesterday and today, all the preparation in the nets meant I had a clear mind," said man-of-the-match Nawaz.
"I have been batting in the middle order in club cricket, which helps a lot, and I was very happy to fulfil the team's expectations in me."
The Black Caps -- World Cup finalists last year -- started well with captain Kane Williamson the top-scorer with a masterful display of stroke play to chalk up 59 off 38 balls.
The hosts flew out of the traps with Finn Allen hitting three fours before he was caught by Naseem Shah for 12 off six balls.
Williamson came in to settle nerves with his first half-century in any format in 2022 after struggling for form following an elbow injury.
"It was a great game, Pakistan are a strong side and all credit to the way they turned the game's momentum," said Williamson.
"There was a lot of good in it, but it was frustrating not to get over the line."
In reply, formidable Pakistan openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan smashed Tim Southee, on his 100th T20 international appearance, for nine runs in the opening over, then hit Trent Boult for 10 in the second.
Bracewell then intervened and grabbed the wickets of Azam and Shan Masood, and Ish Sodhi trapped dangerman Rizwan lbw for 34 runs off 29 balls.
But just as he did against Bangladesh, Nawaz came to the crease to wrestle back control of the match.
Iftikhar's towering six with three balls left clinched victory in style.
"It's disappointing that we can't take the winners' cup home," said Bracewell, who finished man of the series.
"What lost us the game was those last couple of overs at both ends, but we can take a lot of positives into the World Cup."
Bilawal greets Pakistan cricket team
PPP Chairman and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has congratulated the Pakistan cricket team on their victory in T20 tri-series final against New Zealand.
He sent congratulatory message to all the players of the national team including Captain Babar Azam and Muhammad Nawaz. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari applauded the brilliant performance of players and stated that determination and excellent teamwork are surly the key to success.