Babar Azam guides Pakistan to another victory in NZ T20 tri-nation series

Captain hits unbeaten 79 to seal six-wicket win over Black Caps on Saturday

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Babar Azam played another captain's innings to guide Pakistan to a six-wicket win over New Zealand in their tri-nation T20 match in Christchurch on Saturday.

Set a target of 148, Azam guided the chase with a composed 79 not out from 53 balls to seal their second win of the series after their opening triumph against Bangladesh.

Pakistan were in a spot of bother in the closing stages of the match as they needed 24 from three overs. Haider Ali then came in and hit a six and a four off the first two balls he faced to ease the nerves. Kiwi pacer Blair Tickner bowled the game-changing 18th over that went for 21 runs, including three fours and a six.

All-rounder Shadab Khan was promoted up the order and he hit a quick 34 from 22 balls.

Earlier, late blows from Mark Chapman lifted New Zealand to 147-8 .

After choosing to bat first, the Black Caps appeared to be on course for a modest total at Hagley Oval before Chapman's 32 off 16 balls, which featured three fours and two sixes.

New Zealand laid the foundation of their innings through opener Devon Conway (36 off 35) and captain Kane Williamson (31 off 30), although both struggled for timing during a 61-run stand for the second wicket.

It was another frustrating outcome for Williamson, who has passed 50 on just two occasions in all formats over the last 18 months, a period that has encompassed 29 innings.

He was clean-bowled attempting a slog-sweep off spinner Mohammad Nawaz, while Chapman holed out to a slower ball from Pakistan's best bowler, paceman Haris Rauf (3-28).

Pakistan had beaten Bangladesh by 21 runs in the series-opener at the same venue on Friday. The three teams are using the week-long tournament to prepare for the T20 World Cup in Australia this month.

Meanwhile, Pakistan board chief Ramiz Raja revealed that left-arm fast bowler Shaheen Afridi has made rapid progress from a knee injury and will be "battle-ready" for their T20 World Cup opener against India.

Afridi has been sidelined since sustaining a ligament injury to his right knee during a Test match in Sri Lanka in July and missed the Asia Cup as well as the home series against England.

"I had a chat with Shaheen ... and he said he hasn't felt this good in ages. So, the progress is very good," Raja told Dawn news.

"He said he'd be battle-ready soon, it's great news for us."

Updated: October 08, 2022, 10:24 AM