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Iftikhar masterclass  in vain as New Zealand beat Pakistan in last ball thriller 

CricketIftikhar masterclass  in vain as New Zealand beat Pakistan in last ball thriller 

Lahore: New Zealand overcame Iftikhar Ahmed’s blistering innings to win the third T20I by four runs in front of an almost full capacity Gaddafi Stadium on Monday evening. This was the Kiwis’ first win in the T20I series which also kept them alive in the five-match series, as the previous two matches were won by the hosts at the same venue by 88 runs and 38 runs, respectively.

Both sides will now travel to Rawalpindi to play the remaining two T20Is of the series scheduled on 20 and 24 April, respectively.

Chasing 164 to win, the home side didn’t have a good start as they lost seven wickets inside 15 overs with 88 runs on the board. Right-handed Iftikhar was joined by left-handed Faheem Ashraf and the pair went on to add 61 runs off just 26 balls.

With 72 runs required from the last five overs at the required run-rate of 14.40, Iftikhar and Faheem took the charge to the Kiwis’ bowlers and collected 16 runs from the 16th over. The 18th over of the innings – the most expensive over of the innings brought 23 runs for the side, where three sixes and a four was struck off Adam Milne’s over as the fast bowler ended-up with match figures of 4-0-37-2.

Only eight runs came off the 19th over of the innings in which the tourists got a prized scalp of Faheem, who got out for 27 off 14 balls, striking two sixes and as many fours.

With 15 runs required in the final over to win the match and two wickets in hand, Iftikhar struck Jimmy Neesham for a six on the first ball and then for a four on the third ball to bring down the equation to five off three balls, but Neesham kept his cool and took Iftikhar’s wicket on the fourth ball and then Haris Rauf off the last ball to give New Zealand a four-run win.

Iftikhar’s innings included six towering sixes and three fours, as he scored 60 off just 24 balls.

For the winning team, Neesham took three wickets for 38 in four overs.

Earlier, after opting to bat first, Tom Latham played a captain’s innings as the left-handed opening batter top-scored for his side with a 49-ball 64, which included seven fours and two sixes. Daryl Michell was the other notable contributor with the bat, scoring 33 off 26 balls, hitting two fours and a six.

For Pakistan, Shaheen Shah Afridi and Haris Rauf bagged two wickets apiece.

Scores in brief:

New Zealand 163-5, 20 overs (Tom Latham 64, Daryll Mitchell 33; Haris Rauf 2-31, Shaheen Shah Afridi 2-33)

Pakistan 159 all out, 20 overs (Iftikhar Ahmed 60, Faheem Ashraf 27; Jimmy Neesham 3-38, Rachin Ravindra 2-28, Adam Milne 2-37)

Courtesy: PCB

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