Saim Ayub shines before New Zealand overpower Pakistan in first T20

Kiwis amass 226-8 and then dismiss visitors for 180 in Auckland on Friday

Pakistan's Saim Ayub dazzled while opening the innings in the first T20 against New Zealand at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday, January 12, 2024. AFP
Powered by automated translation

Shaheen Afridi's debut as Pakistan's T20 captain did not go according to plan, as New Zealand triumphed by 46 runs in a high-scoring T20 series opener in Auckland on Friday.

The Black Caps racked up 226-8 with Daryl Mitchell smashing 61 off 27 balls and captain Kane Williamson making a more sedate 57 from 42 balls.

Former captain Babar Azam (57) anchored Pakistan's chase for a while but veteran seamer Tim Southee (4-25) led New Zealand's attack admirably as the visitors were dismissed for 180 in 18 overs.

There were a number of noteworthy performers on Friday. Southee became the first player to 150 wickets in T20 Internationals, while Pakistan's debutant seamer Abbas Afridi was the pick of their bowlers with 3-34.

However, it was young batsman Saim Ayub who stole the show in his short yet explosive innings. Opening the innings for Pakistan, the 21-year-old - seen as the future of Pakistan's batting - blasted 27 from just eight balls before he was run out, with two fours and three sixes.

Ayub has made a name for himself at lower levels for his audacious strokeplay, and the left-handed batsman gave a glimpse of that in Auckland, depositing pacer Matt Henry over fine leg with a signature 'no-look' six.
Ayub was run two balls later.

New Zealand still were not out of the woods as Pakistan reached 62-1 after five overs with Mohammad Rizwan and Babar at the crease. Rizwan fell before the end of the power play, top edging a ball from Southee which hung for a long time before being caught by Devon Conway, the New Zealand wicketkeeper.

Ish Sodhi pulled off a brilliant one-handed catch off his own bowling to dismiss Fakhar Zaman but Pakistan were 109-3 after 10 overs, still in the race.

Babar and Iftikhar added 40 for the fourth wicket but the Pakistan run rate began to dip. The visitors were 159-4 at the end of the 15th over, needing 68 runs from 30 balls. The task became much harder when Azam Khan and Shaheen fell to the first and third balls of the 16th over, bowled by Adam Milne.

Babar fell at the start of the 17th over and with him went Pakistan’s last hopes.

Earlier, Shaheen dismissed Conway with the second ball of the match but bled 24 runs in his second over when Finn Allen (34) smacked him for three fours and two sixes.

Shaheen returned to remove the dangerous-looking Mitchell and also dismissed Milne to finish with expensive figures of 3-46.

The left-arm seamer said improvements will be necessary ahead of the second match in Hamilton on Sunday.

"We only have a short time. As a bowling unit, we have to improve and use our variations at the right times," he said.

"Kane Williamson and Mitchell played very well but there were mis-fields in the middle overs. We have to grab those catches and as a fielding unit we need to do better."

Updated: January 12, 2024, 1:17 PM