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Sarfraz takes Pakistan to seven-wicket win

Bowlers restrict New Zealand to 135/7 before 1-0 lead is sealed with enough in the bank

Sarfraz takes Pakistan to seven-wicket win - Cricket News
Sarfraz Ahmed scored an unbeaten 76 to help Pakistan seal a seven-wicket win in the first Twenty20 International against New Zealand.
Sarfraz Ahmed’s unbeaten 76 helped Pakistan seal a seven-wicket win in the first of two Twenty20 Internationals against New Zealand at the Dubai International Stadium on Thursday (December 4).
The Pakistan pacemen were extremely disciplined after they opted to field, and made early strikes to leave New Zealand in trouble. Only three batsmen made telling contributions, as New Zealand was restricted to 135 for 7.
In reply, the Pakistan batsmen started steadily and overcame a slight stutter around the midway stage to wrap up victory with five balls to spare. Sarfraz carried his bat for a 64-ball 76.
Put in, New Zealand wasn't given any time to get its bearings. Anwar Ali, Sohail Tanvir and Mohammad Irfan sent back Kane Williamson, Anton Devcich and Ross Taylor respectively, as New Zealand was reduced to 15 for 3 within the first three overs.
That brought Corey Anderson to the middle, and he was exactly who Martin Guptill needed in terms of support. The two added 46 for the fifth wicket, keeping things safe in an effort to rebuild the innings. The stand was broken when Guptill (32 in 30 balls) fell to a slider from Shahid Afridi, the ball squeezing through to disturb the stumps.
But Luke Ronchi then joined Anderson, and for a while New Zealand was on top. Attack was the name of the game as both batsmen laid into the Pakistan bowlers. Anderson used his feet well and was more than adept at slogging. He heaved sixes left, right and centre, with Anwar bearing the brunt of his aggression.

At the other end, Ronchi kept things on the ground, driving and pushing through the covers. The two soon brought up a 50-run partnership, but the stand was broken soon after, against the run of play. Two runs away from his half-century, Anderson pulled Raza Hasan, but the ball dipped towards the deep-midwicket boundary where Saad Nasim pulled off a smart running catch.
Anderson’s wicket took the fight out of New Zealand. Jimmy Neesham was dismissed for 6 before Tanvir accounted for Ronchi, who had scored 33 in 28 balls.
Pakistan was sensible at the start, with Sarfraz and Awais Zia putting on 51 for the opening wicket. It didn’t really have a go hard given the target, but the bowlers sent down enough deliveries that warranted punishment, and there were a couple of boundaries in every over. Sarfraz was in a particularly punishing mood.
However, New Zealand had a breakthrough out of nowhere. Zia prodded the ball to point for a quick single, but found himself short of the non-striker's end with Devcich as sharp as a knife in the field. The next wicket was a run out as well, Mohammad Hafeez at the end of a gamble by Sarfraz.
Sarfraz carried on, shifting gears in the 11th over sent down by Anderson that yielded 17 runs. He brought up his half-century with a slog over mid-wicket as Pakistan neared its target, needing 36 from the last five overs. Haris Sohail was dismissed, but that didn’t affect the momentum, with Umar Akmal providing able support to Sarfraz. They added 43 for the fourth wicket as Pakistan crossed the finishing line with ease.
The second T20I will be played on Friday at the same venue.

Please click here to see the full scorecard of Pakistan v New Zealand in Dubai

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