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Babar, Shaheen aid Pakistan to level series against New Zealand

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LAHORE: Captain Babar Azam’s 34th half-century, followed by Shaheen Afridi’s four-fer powered Pakistan to a narrow nine-run victory against New Zealand in the fifth T20I of the five-match series here at Gaddafi Stadium on Saturday.

Pakistan came from behind to level the five-match T20I series 2-2 after losing back-to-back matches.

While chasing 179, Tom Blundell hit Afridi for a boundary but the bowler made a comeback, reducing New Zealand to 5-1.

Tim Seifert gave New Zealand hope with his aggressive stroke play during his one-sided 76-run partnership with Michael Bracewell.

Seifert scored 52 runs from 33 balls with the help of seven boundaries and two sixes before Usama Mir castled him in the ninth over with 81 runs on the board.

Mir bowled the maiden and removed Mark Chapman in the next over to reduce New Zealand to 97-3.

Shadab Khan and Imad Wasim also joined the party as the visitors slipped to 103-5 before James Neesham and Josh Clarkson’s brief 22-run stand, which pushed the total to 125.

However, Afridi returned to the attack and picked back-to-back wickets to break the budding partnership.

Clarkson fought the lone war with an unbeaten 38 off 26, however, could not find support from the other end as New Zealand bundled for 169 in the last over.

Afridi topped the bowling charts for Pakistan with his figures of 4-30, while Mir claimed two wickets.

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New Zealand invited Pakistan to bat first and got an early breakthrough as Saim Ayub fell prey to William O’Rourke with only eight runs on the board.

Babar Azam launched an onslaught, keeping Pakistan in command, meanwhile Usman Khan, after a shaky start, joined the party.

Together they raised 73 runs for the second wicket in 45 balls, before Ish Sodhi removed Khan. The right-handed batter scored 31 off 24, featuring three boundaries and one six.

Fakhar Zaman joined Babar Azam on the crease but remained scratchy during their 42-run stand for the third wicket.

Azam top-scored for Pakistan with 69 runs from 44 balls with the help of eight boundaries, including two sixes before he was bowled by Ben Sears’ searing yorker.

Zaman switched gears during his one-sided 36-run partnership with Iftikhar Ahmed, scoring 28 runs but fell in the last over.

The left-handed batter scored 43 off 33 with the help of four boundaries and one six.

Shadab Khan (15) and Imad Wasim (4) remained unbeaten as they pushed Pakistan’s total to 178-5 in 20 overs.

For New Zealand, Foulkes, O’Rourke, Sears, Sodhi, and James Neesham bagged one wicket each.

READ: ICC T20 World Cup 2024 trophy reaches Lahore

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