Only Pakistan could have done it. After restricting New Zealand to a well below-par 133 for 7, Pakistan managed to mess up the chase despite a sensible, unbeaten 67 from opener Salman Butt and some monstrous hitting from Abdul Razzaq towards the end.
The Pakistani opener was left stranded thanks to some inexplicable batting from the other end, as the Kiwis escaped to a one-run win. Earlier, New Zealand skipper Daniel Vettori rescued his side with the bat, with a typically fighting 38 after the early loss of wickets.
Still, at the halfway stage, it seemed a far from competitive total. But, with Pakistan once again in the mood to commit hara-kiri, it proved just about enough.
Pakistan’s best chance was when Butt and Razzaq joined forces following the batting collapse and played some intelligent cricket. Razzaq batted patiently in the initial phase of his innings before exploding.
He smashed two massive sixes and a four off Vettori in one over. While he was relatively quieter against Shane Bond, he did manage to smash one that nearly cleared the stadium.
Thanks to his mighty hitting Pakistan were left needing to score at just over eight runs an over in the final three overs, an easily achievable task in T20 cricket.
However, the renowned fighters that they are, the Kiwis fought back. Nathan McCullum bounced out Razzaq to keep his side in the hunt. At the other end, Butt crossed his half-century and kept finding the boundaries in between the singles and dot balls.
11 were needed off the last over, and the responsibility of bowling it was handed over to Ian Butler, who had been miserly until then. It was a mixed bag from Butt as he swung two for boundaries and missed two from the first four balls.
The fifth ball saw a yorker length delivery that the left-hander couldn’t do much with, but steal a bye. And so, Abdur Rehman was on strike with two needed off the last ball.
Butler bowled one on a length and a swipe from Rehman only managed to travel as far as the fielder, Martin Guptill at deep square leg.
Ironically, Rehman was the one who bowled Pakistan into a good position earlier in the day. After Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder had started off aggressively, it was Rehman who put the brakes on the innings.
Rehman troubled all the Kiwi batsmen, but none more than Guptill, who looked all the sea before the misery was ended by a diving catch by Umar. Things got worse for New Zealand as McCullum, who had calmed down following the loss of wickets, top-edged a sweep shot for 33.
Soon, the loss of Ross Taylor saw the batting side slump to 58 for 4, before Vettori did some amount of damage control.
Pakistan remained favourites to win as they began their chase. However, apart from Butt and Razzaq, they never ever looked in control any sort of rhythm. When their captain Shahid Afridi fell in the 10th over, the score read a miserable 58 for 5.
The disaster began when Kamran ‘wonder why he is in the team’ Akmal failed to pick a slower ball from Kyle Mills, and inside edged one. Mohammad Hafeez then fell to a rising delivery from Shane Bond, and soon Mills sent back Umar Gul for a first ball duck.
Misbah-ul-Haq (in the same boat as Kamran) scratched around for 13th balls and gathered only 3, before being trapped in front of the stumps. With the top four falling cheaply, all eyes were on Boom Boom Shahid Afridi.
But, the skipper too fell to a superb diving blinder from Nathan McCullum and thus proved no matter how badly the opposition performs, they can always better the worse.
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