Pakistan’s Spin Mastery: Sealing the Fifth T20I with a 42-Run Win Against New Zealand

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In a spectacular turn of events, Pakistan’s spin maestros orchestrated a remarkable 42-run victory in the fifth and final Twenty20 international against New Zealand on Sunday, preventing a series clean sweep and concluding the tour on a high note.

Despite succumbing to a 4-1 defeat in the overall five-match series, Pakistan found solace as their spinners dismantled the Black Caps, restricting them to a mere 92 runs in response to Pakistan’s defending total of 134-8.

The standout performer, part-time offspinner Iftikhar Ahmed, showcased a career-best performance with figures of 3-24. Exploiting the vulnerabilities in New Zealand’s weakened batting lineup, the spinners spun a web, leading to the Black Caps registering their eighth-lowest T20 total.

While openers Finn Allen (22) and Glenn Phillips (26) managed to cross the 20-run mark, Pakistan’s bowlers dominated the latter part of the innings, claiming the last eight wickets for a mere 39 runs in what proved to be their most impressive bowling display of the series.

Left-arm spinner Mohammad Nawaz (2-18) made early inroads, dismissing Rachin Ravindra and Will Young at a low cost. Additionally, captain Shaheen Shah Afridi found reason to celebrate at the end of his maiden series in charge, contributing with figures of 2-20.

New Zealand faced the challenge with three key batters absent: Kane Williamson (knee injury), Devon Conway (Covid-19), and Daryl Mitchell (rested).

In the initial stages, it seemed the home side were poised for a clean sweep, with Tim Southee, Matt Henry and Lockie Ferguson, along with spinner Ish Sodhi, claiming two wickets each. Southee, the leading wicket-taker in T20 cricket, dismissed debutant Haseebullah Khan in the opening over and returned in the 13th over to remove the aggressive Fakhar Zaman, who had raced to 33 off 16 balls.

Despite the disciplined bowling that restricted Pakistan’s batters, top-scorer Mohammad Rizwan’s departure for 38 off 38 balls marked the lowest first-innings score by either team in the series, ultimately setting the stage for Pakistan’s spin brilliance late in the innings.

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