Clinical New Zealand outlast Pakistan to win 4th T20I

LAHORE: Experienced all-rounder Jimmy Neesham kept his cool to defend six off the last ball to clinch a four-run victory for New Zealand on Thursday in the fourth Twenty20 international against Pakistan in Lahore.

Pakistan needed 18 off the last over in their chase of 179 but Neesham came out on top despite being hit for a boundary off the first ball, leaving a packed Gaddafi Stadium crowd heartbroken.

Opener Tim Robinson hit a maiden half-century to lift New Zealand to 178-7 in 20 overs before pacer William O'Rourke claimed 3-27 to help restrict Pakistan to 174-8.

Returning all-rounder Imad Wasim (22 not out) could only hit the last ball for a single as New Zealand took an unassailable 2-1 lead in the five-match series with the last game on Saturday, also in Lahore.

Pakistan lost the third match by seven wickets after winning the second by the same margin, while the first match was abandoned after just two balls – all three in Rawalpindi.

The defeats are a jolt to a full-strength Pakistan side in their preparations for the Twenty20 World Cup to be held in the United States and West Indies in June.

New Zealand, missing a host of players due to the Indian Premier League, injuries and unavailability, will draw confidence from their strength in depth going into the World Cup.

Pakistan sensed they were in with a chance when Fakhar Zaman, who hit 61 off 45 balls, lifted Pakistan from 79-4 with a 59-run stand for the fifth wicket with Iftikhar Ahmed (23).

But O'Rourke, playing only his fourth T20I, dismissed Ahmed to add to his wickets of Babar Azam (five) and Saim Ayub (20) to boost New Zealand.

Fellow pacer Ben Sears (2-27) claimed Zaman's wicket with 33 needed off 14 balls.

New Zealand skipper Michael Bracewell praised his team's bowling in the final overs.

"It's a huge positive for us that we are able to expose new guys, we backed Neesham to bowl those hard overs and he was able to close out today," said Bracewell.

"I think our last five overs as a bowling unit were particularly impressive."

Pakistan skipper Azam rued the loss of wickets at crucial points.

"We wanted to chase it with positive intent but we were unable to do so," said Azam. "When you lose back-to-back wickets, you need a few overs to catch up but we got derailed in that period."

Earlier, Robinson batted with aggression as his 36-ball 51 lifted New Zealand – who were sent in to bat – to 93-1 in 10 overs before Abbas Afridi's career best 3-20 pulled Pakistan back into the contest.

New Zealand started briskly with Robinson and Tom Blundell, who made 28 off 15, putting on 56 for the opening stand in five overs.

But from 94-1 New Zealand lost three wickets, including that of dangerman Mark Chapman for eight, as Pakistan's fielders held catches to back some good bowling by Abbas.

Dean Foxcroft chipped in with 34 off 26 deliveries and Bracewell added 27 to keep the scoreboard ticking as New Zealand managed 43 in the last five overs.

Pakistan were forced to make five changes as wicketkeeper-batter Mohammad Rizwan and Muhammad Irfan Khan were injured while they rested Shaheen Shah Afridi, Naseem Shah and Abrar Ahmed.--AFP

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