New Delhi: Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi led from the front against New Zealand and registered a comfortable victory against an in-form hosts in the first T20 international in Auckland on Friday.
The Pakistani side who were criticised after their heavy T20 series loss against England recently in the end of 2015, got their new year off to a perfect start after registering a complete performance. Shahid Afridi led his side well as the bowlers chipped in collectively to help the side win by 16 runs.
Afridi stepped up and bowled cleverly to earn two wickets and the rest followed suit. Comeback man Mohammad Amir who was banned for five years after a spot-fixing allegation in 2010, looked impressive in his first international match. Amir could have had more luck but two catches were dropped off his bowling. The pacer looked in rhythm and that is a positive sign.
Amir will definitely get more confidence as the series progresses and that will be a positive sign for Pakistan and their skipper with the upcoming ICC 2016 T20 World Cup.
The likes of Imad Wasim and Wahab Riaz showed their skills to stand out for the visitors. New Zealand who were well placed at one time, will rue Colin Munro's wicket off Riaz. That game changing moment helped Pakistani bowlers make further inroads.
Afridi was pleased with both Amir and Umar Gul, with the latter coming back a spell on the sidelines.
After the game, Afridi stated that he must give credit to the fast bowlers and praised the duo of Gul and Amir.
"With 171, I was very much confident. I must give credit to the fast bowlers, especially Umar Gul, who came back from injury, and Mohammad Amir, who both bowled very well at the right time."
Afridi's captaincy was recently questioned by a Pakistani journalist in Lahore which led to the veteran player walking out from the press conference. The win was a befitting reply for the doubters as the skipper showed he has enough cricket left in him that can propel his side to do well.
Pakistan's bowling will be the key in this three-match T20 series and the ODIs too. For now the bowlers have stuck to their game-plan to get the series ticking off with a good note.
After the loss against England, Pakistan's reaction against New Zealand will please Afridi. The visitors will hope their bowlers come good in the next T20 game as that will help them to seal the series.