After a chastening and hitherto win-less tour of New Zealand, Pakistan roared back in the second T20I to take the match by 48 runs and set up a decider on Sunday at Bay Oval, Mount Maunganui.
Fakhar Zaman, who made a breezy 50 from 28 balls and shared a 94-run partnership with his fellow opener Ahmed Shehzad, was named Player of the Match.
"This is our first win after a long time, so we're happy," he said. "The wicket was much better than the first game. We took our time and after two-to-three overs we played our shots. Our plan was to survive the Powerplay today. We did that, and we go the result. I'm enjoying my form at the moment."
Pakistan’s top four were irresistible, with Sarfraz Ahmed, the skipper, providing a devastating cameo with the bat of 41 from 24 balls. After a dreadful run of defeats, Sarfraz knew the importance of a good performance.
"Credit goes to our openers Fakhar and Shehzad. They did the job. We knew 170 was the par score, and we knew that if we batted well we'd reach that far. We wanted to score 200, that's why we wanted to bat first. Credit goes to all the bowlers as well. It is not easy to bowl on such a small ground. And it’s not easy captaining on a ground like this!"
Kane Williamson, the New Zealand captain, registered his first duck in 92 matches as skipper, but was philosophical at the end. "Pakistan were excellent in all departments, and we were poor in all departments. When you catch Pakistan when they're on fire, this is the result we get. [Mitchell] Santner and [Ben] Wheeler really came off today, so we do have belief in the camp.
"Bowling at the death is always tough, but overall the seamers have been bowling well. Simply, they got a lot of runs and we didn't. We’re looking forward to the final game. We pride ourselves on our performances, but it's important to move on. It's a great opportunity to figure what went wrong, but after all it's T20 cricket."