There were times where Pakistan looked to be moving towards an easy victory over New Zealand, and there were plenty of other times where they did not have it all their own way.

In the end, Pakistan triumphed by five wickets, chasing down 134 with just eight balls to spare.

The Men in Green have now won their opening two matches at an ICC Men’s T20 World Cup for only the second time, while for New Zealand their Super 12s involvement starts with defeat.

There were several key moments that contributed to the see-saw nature of Pakistan’s win, beginning first with Shaheen Shah Afridi’s opening over.

Afridi set the tone for Pakistan’s bowling innings, beginning with a maiden against Martin Guptill and when the next three overs saw Pakistan concede only one boundary per over, they felt firmly in control.

New Zealand then identified Hasan Ali as the bowler to target after he went for 44 runs against India, and the Black Caps took 15 runs off him, including five runs off a no-ball to move to 36 for none after five overs, they were now in the ascendancy.

Babar Azam decided to roll the dice in the final over of the powerplay with Haris Rauf coming on much early than his usual death-bowling slot.

The gamble paid off as Haris bowled Guptill with his second ball and conceded only six of the rest of the over.

He would not be called upon again until the second half of the innings but again his involvement would prove vital.

With three overs to go, New Zealand were 116 for four and Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips looked to kick on but a big heave down to cow corner saw Conway caught by Babar.

Two balls later Phillips was following him back to the hutch and Pakistan were again firmly on top.

The final deliveries of both Afridi and Haris took wickets to reduce New Zealand to 134 for eight, a total captain Williamson still thought was defendable.

As Pakistan began their innings there were none of the fireworks of two nights before when Babar and Rizwan had put on an unbroken stand of 152 to guide Pakistan to a famous victory over India.

It was not until the final ball of the 11th over that Pakistan’s innings really caught alight, and instead it was New Zealand, or more specifically, Conway who was on fire.

Conway adopted the superhero pose and at full-stretch plucked out a ball that Mohammad Hafeez must have been sure was sailing for six.

Instead, Hafeez was gone after making 11 off six balls, just as he looked to be getting going.

The odds, and the win predictor, were now in New Zealand’s favour and it was up to Asif Ali and Shoaib Malik to do something about it.

And that is what they did, Asif timing the ball better than anyone had done all night, his back-to-back sixes made New Zealand’s target seem far less daunting than it had done two balls before.

And it was he who hit the winning runs, taking two off Trent Boult to secure Pakistan a victory that hadn’t always looked as likely as he ultimately made it seem.

Article courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.