ABU DHABI: Pakistan beat New Zealand by two runs in the first Twenty20 international in a last over thriller in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.
New Zealand needed a six off the last ball to tie the match but managed a boundary to finish at 146-6 in 20 overs.
Pakistan´s best bowler was Hasan Ali who finished with 3-35.
Pakistan made 148-6 with Mohammad Hafeez (45), Sarfraz Ahmed (34) and Asif Ali (24) main run getters after they won the toss and batted.
Adam Milne was the best New Zealand bowler with 2-28.
The remaining two matches will be played in Dubai on Friday and Sunday.
Pakistan, who are on a roll after a 3-0 whitewash of Australia on Sunday, brought back left-arm pacer Shaheen Shah Afridi in place of another fast bowler Usman Shinwari.
New Zealand left out express paceman Lockie Ferguson and included both spinners Ish Sodhi and Ajaz Patel.
Pakistan maintained their top spot in the ICC T20 ranking with a 3-0 whitewash of Australia in Dubai on Sunday, cementing their place as the leading lights of the game’s shortest format.
Speaking to the media, Pakistan skipper Sarfraz Ahmed admitted New Zealand, two points behind Australia in the world rankings having played three fewer matches, will be a tougher opponent.
“They [New Zealand] have a strong team with ideal batsmen for T20 and a balanced bowling attack so we need to set the tone from the first game by winning it,” said Sarfraz.
He added, “We want to carry forward the winning momentum of the Australia series.”
Pakistan has won 10 of their 18 previous T20 internationals against New Zealand.
New Zealand captain Kane Williamson is also aware of the threat posed by Pakistan and said his team needed to be at their best to beat the top team.
“Obviously, Pakistan are a strong side,” said Williamson.
“That’s something we’ve known for a long time. The last time we played against them was at home in New Zealand and it was a tough series,” added Williamson of the January series Pakistan won 2-1.
“They are extremely strong in these conditions. Their rankings suggest that as well. They have had a lot of success in the format in recent times.”
Pakistan have named an unchanged side to face New Zealand. However, opener Fakhar Zaman is still sidelined with the knee problem that forced him to sit out Sunday’s game against Australia in Dubai.
The remaining two matches of the three-match series will be played in Dubai on November 3rd and November 4th. The two teams will then play three Tests and three one-day internationals.
The match between Pakistan and Australia will start at 9pm Pakistan Standard Time.
Pakistan: Sarfraz Ahmed (captain), Mohammad Hafeez, Sahibzada Farhan, Babar Azam, Shoaib Malik, Asif Ali, Shadab Khan, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Hasan Ali, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf
New Zealand: Kane Williamson (captain), Corey Anderson, Colin de Grandhomme, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor