Pakistan beat New Zealand by five wickets in T20 cricket, a month after New Zealand's shock abandonment of their Pakistan tour that left the host nation angry and created bad blood between the sides.
Pakistani leaders, fans, and commentators have extolled their cricket team which defeated New Zealand by five wickets in Sharjah –– a win that came over a month after New Zealand's shock abandonment of their Pakistan tour that created bad blood between the sides.
Pakistan cricket authorities were left fuming after New Zealand ended the September tour minutes before the start of the first one-day international in Rawalpindi, citing an unspecified "security alert". Pakistan says the emailed threat was sent from India to sabotage the tour.
A week after New Zealand left, England also withdrew their men's and women's teams from a tour to Pakistan due to concerns over the "physical and mental health of the players".
Pakistan slammed England's "excuses" and the newly elected chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board Ramiz Raja proclaimed New Zealand will be one of the targets in the T20 World Cup.
"We had one team in our target, our neighbours (India), now add two more teams, New Zealand and England," Raja said last month.
On Tuesday, Pakistan underlined their credentials as early Twenty20 World Cup favourites when they held their nerve to beat New Zealand by five wickets and secure a second straight victory in the tournament.
Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the team and called their bowling "outstanding".
"A good team will analyse its mistakes when it loses. A great team does a thorough analysis of its game even when it wins," Khan wrote on Twitter.
President Arif Alvi hailed Pakistani skills, saying: "Outstanding my dear Green Shirts. You continue with your winning spree and took [out] your disappointment of NZ cancelled tour on the ground."
"We were angry with New Zealand, India just happened to be in the route," Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry said.
Outstanding my dear Green Shirts. You continue with your winning spree and took your disappointment of NZ cancelled tour on the ground.— Dr. Arif Alvi (@ArifAlvi) October 26, 2021
Excellent performance by Haris Rauf with the ball & then Asif Ali with the bat at the end who made sure of our win.
مزا آگیا۔ واہ واہ pic.twitter.com/kcovLZXhqB
Pakistan on a high after beating India
Pakistan, on a high after defeating arch-rivals India in their Super 12 stage opener, chased a modest 135 for victory after pace bowler Haris Rauf choked out New Zealand with four wickets.
Pakistan were in trouble at 69-4 but crossed the line in 18.4 overs for a fine start in their bid for a second championship.
Mohammad Rizwan top-scored with 33 while Shoaib Malik (26 not out) and Asif Ali (27 not out) guided them home.
Pakistan channeled any lingering anger as they restricted New Zealand to 134-8 as Rauf picked up 4-22.
The contest was evenly poised until the 16th over with Pakistan at 98-5 but Tim Southee conceded 13 runs in the next as Asif smashed two sixes to turn the game on its head.
Malik struck a six and a four off Mitchell Santner to ensure Pakistan could complete the job in style.
Skipper Babar Azam kept faith with the eleven that hammered India and his decision to bowl after winning the toss paid off as they restricted New Zealand to 42-1 in the powerplay.
New Zealand struggled to release the handbrake as Pakistan continued to apply pressure and Rauf took two wickets in three balls in the 18th over to ensure there were no late fireworks.
I request all Pakistan fans to remain silent and not enjoy too extravagantly. There is every chance that New Zealand may ask for the match to be called off due to too much noise inside the stadium, if not for security concerns. #T20WorldCup 😉— Shoaib Akhtar (@shoaib100mph) October 26, 2021
'Every game is crucial'
"It's always good to win, we'll take this confidence forward in the tournament. The way Shaheen (Afridi) and Haris bowled was very impressive," Babar said.
"I think we gave them 10 runs too many, but it's cricket and that happens. We lost wickets early, but I want to give credit to Shoaib and Asif. Every game is crucial. We want to take it game-by-game and do well in all departments."
New Zealand opener Daryl Mitchell (27), skipper Kane Williamson (25) and Devon Conway (27) all got good starts but were unable to build on them.
"It's disappointing," Williamson said. "Unfortunately we couldn't nail things towards the back end but we were up against a very good side in Pakistan."
Ahead of the match, Williamson played down talk of a grudge match.
"There are a lot of good relations within the two teams."
Pakistan meet Afghanistan on Friday while New Zealand face a potentially tricky test against a wounded India two days later.