Fluent Sarfraz Ahmed steers Pakistan to victory over New Zealand
Pakistan opener Sarfraz Ahmed`s belligerent 76 not out secured a comprehensive seven-wicket victory against New Zealand in the first Twenty20 International in Dubai on Thursday.
Sarfraz hit two sixes and eight fours in his 64-ball knock to help Pakistan reach their target with five balls to spare after Pakistan restricted New Zealand to 135 for seven.
Asked to bat first, New Zealand slumped to 15 for three before Martin Guptill (32) and Corey Anderson (48) halted the slide with a 46-run stand.
Leading the team in the absence of rested Brendon McCullum, Kane Williamson was dismissed for a golden duck when Anwar Ali`s third delivery trapped him lbw.
After Guptill`s departure in the 10th over, Anderson added 51 runs with Luke Ronchi (33) but his 37-ball knock studded with four sixes came to an end when Saad Nasim leapt to take a brilliant catch on the boundary.
Anderson`s exit in the 16th over robbed New Zealand of the momentum and the visitors scored only 25 runs off the last five overs.
Pakistan made a flying start with Sarfraz and Awais Zia (20) taking them past the 50-mark in the eighth over.
Zia and Mohammad Hafeez fell in quick succession but Sarfraz looked unstoppable and he hit Anderson for a six in the 11th over to bring up his maiden 20-over fifty.
Umar Akmal chipped in with an unbeaten 27 off 14 balls, sealing Pakistan`s victory with a six off Jimmy Neesham.
The teams return to the same ground in less than 24 hours for the second and final Twenty20 International on Friday.