Pakistan defeated New Zealand in the fifth and final T20I of the series and took a consolation win against the BlackCaps, who clinched the series 4-1 against the Men in Green.
Iftikhar Ahmed was the Player of the Match and surprisingly he started with the ball instead of his usual prowess with the bat. Iftikhar Ahmed is an all-round batsman, but this time he was the star with the ball in his hand.
Pakistan batted first at Hagley Oval in Christchurch and battled their way to 134/8 in the 20 overs. New Zealand, chasing what was supposed to be an easy target of 135, were beaten for just 92 and Pakistan won the match by 42 runs.
This was Pakistan’s first win since their victory against New Zealand in the ICC ODI World Cup 2023. They lost the series by a huge margin but ended on a positive note. This was Shaheen Shah Afridi’s first victory as captain of the Pakistan national cricket team.
Iftikhar Ahmed took a figure of 4-0-24-3 and helped Pakistan win their first match of the year. He was out for just five runs in Pakistan’s innings, but handled the ball quite well to take three wickets against New Zealand.
After the match, he said that it was predetermined that he would bowl today and that he went out to bowl and did so according to the conditions. He expressed his desire to bowl in the future if the captain wants him to play that role.
“It was decided that I would go bowling today and I tried to do it according to the pitch conditions. I would like to bowl more if the captain so wishes,” he said after the match. Iftikhar Ahmed has been one of the permanent members of the T20 team and before this match he was not in the best of form. He had a quiet tour with the bat scoring just 44 runs in five innings at a meager average of 8.80.
Iftikhar Ahmed recorded his best figures in T20Is
“It was decided that I would go bowling today and I tried to do it according to the pitch conditions. I would like to bowl more if the captain so wishes” – Iftikhar Ahmed
Why didn’t Iftikhar bowl any over before? 😞 #NZvsPAK pic.twitter.com/onLhjHy318
– Farid Khan (@_FaridKhan) January 21, 2024
Iftikhar Ahmed’s 24/3 is his personal best in the shortest format for Pakistan. The batting all-rounder has played 54 T20Is and has taken only seven wickets and with the bat he has scored 858 runs in 46 innings at an average of 25.23 and a strike rate of 129.02. He has smashed four half-centuries in Pakistan’s shortest format and has a best score of 62*.
Pakistan players will now have a big international break as they will play in the Pakistan Super League, which will begin on February 17. The Men in Green will tour England for a four-match T20I series ahead of the 2024 T20 World Cup.