Hafeez continues fine run as Pakistan clinch series

By Sports Desk November 02, 2018

Mohammad Hafeez's rescue act kept Pakistan's fine winning run going in a six-wicket victory that secured the Twenty20 international series against New Zealand. 

Pakistan won all three T20Is against Australia last month before edging the Black Caps by two runs in the sides' opener on Wednesday, with Hafeez influential.

And that was again the case two days later when he arrived at the crease with little time to spare and promptly smashed 34 off 21 to clinch victory with just two balls remaining.

A heroic showing capped a fine day for Hafeez, who sealed a return to the one-day international squad that may well lead to more misery for New Zealand.

The Black Caps were left frustrated as a target of 154 proved not to be enough despite the best efforts of Colin Munro with bat (44) and ball (1-22).

Munro smashed a six from the first delivery to set the tone for a strong opening partnership, aided by some sloppy Pakistan fielding.

Glenn Phillips escaped when Shadab Khan fumbled the ball at mid-on as the batsman dallied halfway down the wicket, before Hafeez dropped the big-hitting Munro on 32.

However, the stand for the first wicket ended at 50 as Phillips nicked Shaheen Afridi (3-20) behind and Munro soon followed when Sarfraz Ahmed whipped off his bails.

The Black Caps were suddenly reeling and Colin de Grandhomme went to a brilliant Shoaib Malik catch, before a ruthless run out accounted for Ross Taylor.

But a partnership of 42 between Kane Williamson (37) and Corey Anderson (44) carried New Zealand past 100, with the latter continuing to chip away and contributing heavily to a respectable final score of 153-7.

Pakistan similarly started brightly with the bat, losing Fakhar Zaman only after a swift 24 off 15 deliveries, but the run rate slowed after the first wicket.

Babar Azam plodded to 40 before departing, yet his dismissal in the 13th over left his team-mates with little time to make inroads against a miserly New Zealand attack.

But Hafeez was next in and, although Munro trapped Asif Ali lbw for 38, the batsman speedily brought Pakistan into contention, ensuring only 14 runs were required from the final two overs.

The dismissal of Shoaib (10) set the nerves jangling, but Hafeez's four over cover was enough to seal yet another series win with one game remaining.

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