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RAWALPINDI: New Zealand’s Michael Bracewell ( C ) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Babar Azam (not pictured) during the Twenty20 international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. –AFP
RAWALPINDI: New Zealand’s Michael Bracewell ( C ) celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Pakistan’s Babar Azam (not pictured) during the Twenty20 international cricket match between Pakistan and New Zealand at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi. –AFP

Chapman leads NZ to shock win over Pakistan in third T20

RAWALPINDI: Mark Chapman hit an undefeated 87 to lead an under-strength New Zealand to a shock seven-wicket victory over Pakistan in the third Twenty20 international in Rawalpindi on Sunday. The 29-year-old left-hander smashed his runs off 42 balls to anchor New Zealand’s chase of a 179-run target in 18.2 overs against a much-vaunted Pakistan bowling attack, silencing a packed 16,000-strong holiday crowd.

Shadab Khan (41) and Babar Azam (37) were the main contributors in Pakistan’s 178-4 after the hosts were sent in to bat. Tim Robinson hit 28 off 19 balls and Tim Seifert 21 off 16 to set the tone for New Zealand’s chase.

New Zealand were already strongly placed at 53-2 in the sixth over before Chapman and Dean Foxcroft (31) took over, adding a solid 117-run third-wicket partnership to square the five-match series at 1-1. Pakistan won the second game by seven wickets while the first match was washed out after just two balls—both were also in Rawalpindi.

Captain Michael Bracewell, appointed skipper after a host of players missed out due to playing in the Indian Premier League, unavailability and injuries, praised his team’s effort. “I think the partnership between Foxy and Chapman was outstanding,” said Bracewell. “Really happy with the way the guys put the learnings from last night.”

Pakistan skipper Azam rued dropping Chapman on 16 and 36. “We started well with the ball in the first six overs, but when you drop a set batter’s catches then he will take the game away from you,” said Azam.

“Chapman has always done well against us.” Chapman, whose only T20I hundred came at the same venue last year, clobbered four sixes and nine fours in his eighth half century in the format. Azam brought spearhead Shaheen Shah Afridi on in the 15th over with 61 to defend, but Chapman cracked two fours. He then smashed two sixes and two more fours off Naseem Shah’s next over to bring the target down to 21 of 24 balls. Fast bowler Abbas Afridi (2-27) dismissed Foxcroft, but by then New Zealand were just nine away from victory. Chapman and Jimmy Neesham (six not out) reached the target with ten balls to spare. Earlier Shadab hit two sixes and four fours while Azam hit four fours and a six.

Opener Saim Ayub scored a 22-ball 32 and Muhammad Irfan Khan chipped in with a 20-ball 30 not out as Pakistan added 54 in the last five overs. Azam and left-hander Ayub gave Pakistan a brisk start of 55 as the duo played some aggressive shots.

Shadab and Irfan boosted the innings with a brisk 62-run stand for the fourth wicket. For New Zealand, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi was the best bowler with 2-25. The final two matches are in Lahore on April 25 and 27. Both teams are preparing for June’s Twenty20 World Cup in the United States and the West Indies. – AFP

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