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All-round Afridi stars in Pakistan win

Captain scores 23 off eight balls, bowls a two-wicket maiden as New Zealand goes down by 16 runs

All-round Afridi stars in Pakistan win  - Cricket News
Pakistan celebrates the fall of Kane Williamson.
Smart captaincy by Shahid Afridi and tight bowling from the Pakistan attack that kept a feared New Zealand batting line-up in check ensured a 16-run victory for the visiting side in the opening Twenty20 International at Eden Park in Auckland on Friday (January 15).

Mohammad Hafeez's quick fifty and a cameo by Afridi set up Pakistan's 171 for 8. It was a target that proved too tall for New Zealand, who, despite a blistering 46 off 27 by Colin Munro and a stubborn 70 by Kane Williamson, folded for 155. 

New Zealand lost Martin Guptill, the opener who bludgeoned the Sri Lanka attack in recent weeks, for two when he was run out in the second over. However, it recovered well through Munro and Williamson, racing to 89 for 1 in ten overs. 

But when Munro was bowled by Wahab Riaz in the tenth over, it triggered a dramatic collapse in which five wickets fell for 19 runs as the Pakistan bowlers turned the screws. Afridi bowled a two-wicket maiden to finish with 2 for 26 to go with three catches while Imad Wasim took 1 for 18 off his four overs – half those runs came in one over. Wahab Riaz took two wickets in the final over to finish with 3 for 34, while Mohammad Amir marked his return to international cricket after his ban with 1 for 31. 

Williamson was the penultimate wicket to fall, in the first ball of the last over, his 70 off 60 deliveries going in vain.

Earlier, Hafeez was in an attacking mood, hitting eight fours and two sixes on his way to 61 off 47 balls. The middle order pitched in with useful knocks, but it was Man-of-the-Match Afridi's in 23 off eight deliveries that gave Pakistan that vital boost, even as Umar Akmal's 24 off 14 and Imad's 18 off nine rounded it off. 

Adam Milne was the most successful of the New Zealand bowlers with 4 for 37 while Mitchell Santner took 2 for 14. 

The second match in the three-match series is in Hamilton on Sunday.

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