New Zealand cruised to a five-wicket win over Pakistan in the first Twenty20 international at Auckland’s Eden Park on Friday.
The Black Caps ended on 156-5 with seven balls to spare after losing the toss and being set a target of 154. Tim Seifert top-scored for the hosts with 57, while debutant paceman Jacob Duffy took 4-33.
Pakistan never recovered from a slow start, despite a fighting 42 from stand-in captain Shadab Khan. Haris Rauf was the tourists’ best bowler, taking 3-29.
Pakistan had a rocky preparation for the match when 10 of their touring party tested positive for Covid-19 during quarantine after arriving in New Zealand. Players also received a rebuke from local health authorities for flouting social distancing rules, and were unable to train until they were allowed out of their hotel on December 8.
In contrast, New Zealand were coming off a 2-0 series win over the West Indies and playing in home conditions. “We looked a little bit rusty out there,” Khan admitted, saying the variable pace of the pitch made it tough for Pakistan’s batsmen. “We’ve had an international game now so definitely in the next game we’ll do better.”
Man of the match Duffy made a sensational start, dismissing opener Abdullah Shafique for a duck in his first over. He then claimed the scalps of Mohammad Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez in his second as Pakistan lost three wickets in three balls to slump to 20 for four.
Khushdil Shah was out for 16 when he mistimed a ball from Ish Sodhi straight to Martin Guptill in the field. Khan tried to rescue his side’s innings, smashing 42 from 32 balls before Duffy coaxed a top edge to Sodhi.
Pakistan’s attack made early inroads as two quick wickets from Rauf restricted New Zealand to 72-3 at the 10-over mark. Seifert brought up his half century off 35 balls but was out on 57 after a sharp catch from Ashraf, who then dropped an easy chance sitter to give Mark Chapman a life.
Mitchell Santner steered his team to victory with a six to seal the win. The second and third T20s will be played in Hamilton and Napier on Sunday and Tuesday, with the first of two Tests starting in Mount Maunganui on December 26.