New Zealand kick-started its three-match Twenty20 series against the touring Pakistan side with a spectacular show at Auckland. The hosts romped home by 5 wickets with 17 balls to spare after Tim Southee helped restrict the visitors to 143/9 by taking 5/18 off his four overs.
Batting first, Pakistan's innings got off to a flying start. Openers Mohammad Hafeez and Shahid Afridi took eight runs off James Franklin in the first over, while Afridi biffed two huge sixes off Kyle Mills in the next over. Then the batting pair took a four each of the debuntant Adam Milne in the 3rd over, racing to 32/0 in 3 overs.
The Kiwis struck back in a dramatic fourth over when Mills, having just conceded a four to Hafeez, saw Hafeez dropped by Milne at third man before getting Afridi snapped up by Southee at mid-off for 20. There was more misfortune in store for Milne when in the next over, the new batsman Ahmed Shehzad, tucked into him for two fours and a six. Pakistan had brought up its 50 in just 4.4 overs. Then Tim Southee brought Sehzad's cameo to an end when he had him caught behind for 14, pegging back Pakistan to 58/2 in 6 overs.
But Southee's fortunes were only getting better. In the 8th over, he got a hat-trick, bowling Younis Khan for 2, getting Mohammed Haffez caught behind for 24 and then upsetting Umar Akmal 's stumps for no-score. New Zealand were right back in the game as the tripple strike had left Pakistan at 62/5 in 8 overs. Allrounder Abdul Razzaq, couldn't add much to the score and was caught behind off Southee for 1 in the 10th over as the tourists were reduced to 68/6.
Umar Gul tried to counterattack by smacking Southee for two fours in the speedster's next over. But in the following over, Scott Styris brought Alam's stabilising innings to an abrupt end when he had him caught by Franklin at long on for 9. Gul however, kept fighting, knocking off another four and a six before he was trapped plumb in front by Mills for 30 off 31 balls. Mills got another breakthrough just 5 balls later when he dismissed Saeed Ajmal in similar fashion for 1 and Pakistan had stumbled to 112/9 in 18 overs.
Then in a dramatic twist, Wahab Riaz launched a late surge, striking 3 sixes and 2 fours in the last two over, to take his side to a moderately respectable 143/9 as the batsman remained not out on 30 off 21 balls.
Eager to get off to an aggressive start in their reply, New Zealand opener Martin Guptil took two fours and a six off Abdul Razzak, taking his side to 15/0 after the first over. Then, he along with his partner Jesse Ryder, immediately went after Shoaib Akhtar, striking him for a four and a six before the bowler had Ryder caught at slips for 6. The Kiwis were 27 in 2 overs at the loss of their first wicket. Shoaib struck again in his next over, getting Dean Brownlie caught behind for 5 and the Kiwis were in a spot of bother at 38/2 in 3.3 overs.
But new batsman Scott Styris struck back immediately, lofting Shoaib fir a huge six over the backward of point boundary. The Kiwis had thus brought up their 50 in just 4 overs. Off-spinner Saeed Ajmal then managed to pull off a quiet over, before Shoaib returned to get Styris bowled for 7.
With New Zealand at 55/3, Pakistan might have sensed they wer in with a chance to wrest back the match. But Guptill had other plans, slamming speedster Wahab Riaz for two consecutive boundaries in the 7th over.Guptill hit one more six to bring up his 50, having taking his side o 81/3 in 8.1 overs, before his fun came to an end in the next over when he was run out for 54 off just 29 balls.
That was all the success Pakistan would have for the remainder of the match, for though Hafeez trapped James Franklin in front for 19, Ross Taylor pressed on the wicketkeeper McGlashan. Taylor knocked off a flurry of sixes and fours to overhaul's Pakistan's total of 143/9 in 17.1 overs. Taylor remained not out at the end of the match on 39 off 31 balls.
Pakistan's batting yet again proved to be wishy- washy. The middle order collapsed to a deadly spell of bowling from Southee with only the top and latter order making substantial scores. The tourists bowling too was so-so with 5 of the 7 bowlers used going for over 8 an over. Only Shoaib tasted some success with 3/38 in his four overs. New Zealand now go up 1-0 in the three-match series with the next encounter slated to unfold at Hamilton on Tuesday, Dec 28.