All-rounder James Neesham showed restraint in the final over to guide New Zealand to a dramatic four-run victory over Pakistan in the third T20 International in Lahore on Monday despite a brilliant innings from Iftikhar Ahmed. Ahmed brought Pakistan back into the contest from 88–7 with a 24-ball 60 as they attempted to chase down New Zealand’s 163–5. Needing 15 runs to win off Neesham’s final over, he hit a six and a four to bring the target down to five in the last three balls.
But Neesham had Ahmed caught by Daryl Mitchell at long-on and then dismissed last man Haris Rauf after a dot ball.
The visiting team’s captain Tom Latham said, “It was a great game and it is satisfying to cross the boundary and keep the series alive.”
“I think the whole team will take a lot of confidence from this match going forward.
“Pakistan’s opening three wickets in the powerplay set us up and we pride ourselves on our fielding and keep the bar high every time we set foot in the middle.”
Ahmed led the fightback with Faheem Ashraf as the pair put on 61 runs for the eighth wicket, with Ashraf hitting two sixes and as many fours in his 14-ball 27.
Ahmed hit six sixes and three fours.
The win meant New Zealand trail the five-match series 2-1, after Pakistan won the first two matches by 88 and 38 runs in Lahore.
The last two matches are in Rawalpindi on 20 and 24 April.
Pakistan lost wickets at regular intervals, with the formidable opening pair of Babar Azam (one) and Mohammad Rizwan (six), both dismissed for just 17 runs in the fourth over.
Azam was caught at third man by fast bowler Adam Milne, while Rizwan was out of his crease after attempting a sharp single.
Pakistan were further dealt a blow by left-arm spinner Rachin Ravindra who removed Fakhar Zaman (17) and Imad Wasim for three while Neesham dismissed Sam Ayub for 10.
Ish Sodhi dismissed Shaheen Shah Afridi for six and Milne dismissed Shadab Khan for 16 to put Pakistan behind.
The hosts made a comeback thanks to Ahmed, but were dismissed for 159 off the last ball.
Pakistan captain Azam said, “We didn’t bat well tonight.” “We kept losing wickets at crucial times which put us under pressure throughout the run chase, but our bowling has been outstanding in this series,” he said.
Earlier, New Zealand’s innings went ahead with the help of Latham’s 64 runs after winning the toss.
Latham, who hit seven fours and two sixes, added 65 runs for the third wicket with Mitchell, who scored 33 off 26 balls.
Mark Chapman scored an unbeaten 16 off nine balls as New Zealand managed to score 51 runs in the last five overs.
Shaheen, playing his 50th T20I, took 2/33 while his fellow fast bowler Rauf took 2/31.