Haris Rauf takes four-for as Pakistan beat New Zealand by five wickets

  • New Zealand skipper Kane Williamson’s run out in the 14th over and another superb bowling show see Babar Azam’s side close in on a semifinal spot.
Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf registered his best-ever T20 bowling figures. (Getty)
Pakistan pacer Haris Rauf registered his best-ever T20 bowling figures. (Getty)
Updated on Oct 26, 2021 11:41 PM IST
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By, New Delhi

Pakistan produced their second clinical performance in as many matches in the Super 12 stage to edge closer to a semi-final berth in the T20 World Cup. Two days after brushing aside India by 10 wickets, the Babar Azam-led side trumped New Zealand by five wickets in Sharjah on Tuesday, and in the process, topped Group 2. 

Billed as a grudge match in light of New Zealand abandoning their tour of Pakistan at the last minute in September, the match witnessed clinical execution from the latter in all departments of the game.

Also Read | Pakistan vs New Zealand Highlights, T20 World Cup 2021

Asked to bat first on an unused, flat track that offered no perceptible assistance to bowlers, New Zealand were confounded by the guile of Pakistan’s bowling, eventually restricted to a below par 134/8. 

Skipper Kane Williamson’s run out at a crucial phase left them much short of what they would have hoped for. The batsman took a few steps out of his crease and bowler Hasan Ali picked and pulled off a direct hit in the 14th over. 

In reply, Pakistan’s openers, skipper Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan, once again gave them a steady start, and despite a brief stutter in the middle overs that saw them lose Rizwan and Mohammad Hafeez in a space of five balls and six runs, Pakistan rode on some late enterprise from Asif Ali (27* from 12 balls, 1X4, 3X6) and the seasoned Shoaib Malik (26* from 20 balls; 2X4, 1X6) to overhaul the target with eight balls to spare. 

For New Zealand, leg-spinner Ish Sodhi starred with two scalps, while Mitchell Santner, Time Southee, and Trent Boult picked a wicket apiece. That didn’t prevent New Zealand from suffering their fourth loss to Pakistan in six meetings, and the first instance of the Kiwis losing their opening encounter of a T20 world Cup. 

Rauf the star 

Haris Rauf, whose 25/1 in Pakistan’s ten-wicket win over India almost went unnoticed as Shaheen Afridi led the way, stepped up again, and this time his performance met its just reward. Combining his natural raw pace with deft change in speeds, Rauf made an impact in his first over - the sixth of the innings - itself when he bowled the experienced Martin Guptill for a laboured 20-ball 17. 

The 27-year-old returned in the 15th over, giving away just five runs, but it was the 18th over of the innings where Rauf came into his own.  Alternating between 150 kph thunderbolts and well-disguised slower balls, the pacer accounted for Devon Conway and Glenn Philips in the space of three balls to set New Zealand back. 

The entire over, in fact, was an exhibition of masterly T20 bowling.  The first ball was off pace-off length that Conway flicked straight to Babar Azam in the deep. Next up, Rauf ratcheted up the pace by 10mph. The back-of-the-length ball, delivered at 92 mph, beat Glenn Phillips’ outside edge as the right-hander tried an innocuous steer to the off-side. 

Phillips, itching to break the shackles, went for a big shot next ball, but Rauf had recalibrated the pace once again. This time, he produced a 79mph off-cutter that Phillips pulled straight to Hasan Ali, who completed a fine running catch in the deep. 

The double-wicket over snuffed out any remaining chances of a late surge as the Kiwis could muster only 18 runs for the loss of four wickets in the last three overs. Rauf rounded off the innings with a wicket on the final ball. 

Adjudged Player of the Match, Rauf credited healthy competition in the bowling unit for his performance. “I am happy with the performance. There's competition in the bowling unit, we have been playing together for two years - myself, Shaheen and Hasan Ali. We talk with each other, assess the conditions and we do get confidence from each other. The wicket of Guptill in the powerplay was the best amongst the four wickets.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022