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Rizwan’s career best stops Kiwis from series sweep

Mohammad Rizwan smashed a career-best 89 as Pakistan defeated New Zealand by four wickets on Tuesday to avoid a series sweep after the third Twenty20 international in Napier.

Pakistan reached New Zealand’s target with two balls to spare, ending on 177 after Iftikhar Ahmed sealed the win with a six in the final over. But it was Rizwan’s 89 from 59 balls, with support from Mohammad Hafeez who scored a quick 41 off 29 deliveries, that provided the inspiration for the victory.

The New Zealanders finished their innings at 173-7 after losing the toss and being asked to bat, with Devon Conway top-scoring on 63. Faheem Ashraf was the pick of the Pakistan bowlers, taking three for 20.

“It’s a decent total compared to where we were at one point,” Conway said earlier. “We were talking about the 160 mark as somewhere we’d like to get to, and to reach 170-plus is a good total.”

Earlier, Pakistan won the toss and elected to bowl. “We’re going to bowl first because we’ve changed the team so we have depth in batting, so we want to chase,” said stand-in captain Shadab Khan.

Shadab had won the toss in the previous two matches of the series, with Pakistan suffering heavy defeats both times. He said most of his players were unfamiliar with New Zealand conditions.

“For most of them, it’s their first tour in New Zealand and the bounce has affected them,” he said. “Hopefully they’ll learn from that and do better.”

Pakistan brought in Hussain Talat and Iftikhar Ahmed to bolster the batting, along with young fast bowler Mohammad Hasnain. Abdullah Shafique, Imad Wasim and Wahab Riaz were all dropped, with Haider Ali promoted to open the batting in Shafique’s absence.

New Zealand captain Kane Williamson said his team was unchanged from the side that clinched a nine-wicket win in Hamilton on Sunday.

“We’ve had a couple of strong performances and it’s important we keep looking to back that up,” he said. “It’s a good surface so hopefully we can make use of that first up and get a competitive total.”


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