Dunedin, Dec 3 (IANS): Fast-bowler Fatima Sana's superb 3-18 and a batting effort led by Shawaal Zulfiqar’s 41 helped Pakistan win the T20I series opener over New Zealand by seven wickets. The result also means Pakistan have got their first-ever women’s T20I win over New Zealand.
Electing to bat first, New Zealand were restricted to 127/6, courtesy of a fine bowling display by the tourists’ with Fatima being the standout. Fatima, who missed the Bangladesh tour due to injury, capitalised on the overcast conditions to bowl a superb spell of 3-18, with her scalps being Bernadine Bezuidenhout, Kate Anderson and Suzie Bates.
Captain Nida Dar, Diana Baig and Aliya Riaz took a wicket each at regular intervals to dent New Zealand’s job of rebuilding the innings. Maddy Green was the top run-getter, scoring 43 not out off 28 balls, hitting five fours and taking New Zealand past 120.
Chasing 128, Pakistan’s opening pair of Shawaal and Muneeba Ali had a decent 40-run opening partnership, before the latter fell for 23 off 24 balls to Sophie Devine. Nida promoted herself up in the order and stitched a stand of 51 runs for the second wicket with young Shawaal.
Shawaal, 18, playing her sixth T20I and first in New Zealand, made her highest score in the format of 41 off 42 balls, smashing seven boundaries, before being dismissed at the end of the 13th over. Nida too was dismissed after a quick-fire 23 off 14 balls, as Pakistan lost the set batters in quick succession.
It was upto the experienced duo of Bismah Maroof and Aliya to guide Pakistan home with 10 balls to spare. Aliya returned unbeaten on 25 off 12 balls, hitting two fours and a six, including the winning runs on the second ball of the 19th over to finish off the chase in style.
On the other hand, Bismah was unbeaten on 13 off 18 balls, hitting a four. Pakistan will now take on New Zealand in the second T20I on Tuesday at the same venue, while the third and final T20I of the series will be played in Queenstown on December 9.
Brief Scores: New Zealand 127/6 in 20 overs (Maddy Green 43 not out, Suzie Bates 28; Fatima Sana 3-18) lost to Pakistan 132/3 in 18.2 overs (Shawaal Zulfiqar 41, Aliya Riaz 25 not out; Sophie Devine 2-23, Eden Carson 1-27) by seven wickets