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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Pakistan seal an 11th successive series victory in T20 cricket with New Zealand win in Dubai

Pakistan go 2-0 up in three-match series after winning by six wickets

Pakistan batsmen Babar Azam, left, and Asif Ali helped guide their side to a series-clinching win over New Zealand in Dubai. AFP 
Pakistan batsmen Babar Azam, left, and Asif Ali helped guide their side to a series-clinching win over New Zealand in Dubai. AFP 

Mohammed Hafeez hit the winning runs as Pakistan sealed an 11th successive series victory in Twenty20 cricket.

The in-form hosts beat New Zealand by six wickets in the final over at Dubai International Stadium on Friday night.

Hafeez was the hero, first taking the crucial wicket of Colin Munro with the ball, before playing a sparkling hand at the death to take his side to an eight win in a row in the short-format.

Babar Azam again anchored the batting effort for Pakistan, as they chased 154 to win. The world’s No 1 T20 batsman made 40 from 41 balls, but was furious when he was caught by substitute fielder Lockie Ferguson off Tim Southee with much work left to do in the run chase.

Asif Ali struggled to lift the rate. He hit a huge six off Munro’s medium pace, only to fall lbw to a full toss from round the wicket the next ball.

That brought the old heads of Mohammed Hafeez and Malik together, and they took a firm grip on proceedings.

For a while it appeared as though Malik was going to celebrate becoming a father by being the man who guided Pakistan to the series win.

Malik’s wife Sania Mirza, the Indian tennis player, gave birth to a baby boy in Hyderabad in India on Tuesday.

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He was at the birth, then soon after boarded a flight and arrived in Abu Dhabi on the morning of the first game of the series, in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.

The platform was set for him to be the matchwinner, as he and Hafeez needed seven off the last over, bowled by Adam Milne. Malik holed out off the second ball, though.

With him gone, Hafeez took it upon himself to take his side home, and he settled it with two balls to spare, as he blazed Milne through mid-off for four.

Sarfraz Ahmed had lost the toss for the first time in the five matches they have played against Australia and New Zealand over the past two weeks.

It meant that, for once, the opposition had first use off the facilities and Munro, in particular, seemed enthused by the prospect.

Fresh from a half-century in the first match two days earlier, Munro was rapidly out of the blocks. He launched Imad Wasim for six off the first ball of the match.

The South Africa-born opener barely slowed thereafter, and he was given a life, too, when Mohammed Hafeez spilt a catch off Faheem Ashraf when Munro was on 32.

Hafeez cost his team just 12, though, and accounted for Munro himself. He had him stumped by Sarfraz for 44 off 28 balls.

New Zealand’s batting line up is packed with power-hitters, but none found scoring easy on a typically slow Dubai wicket.

The going was made particularly tough by Shaheen Afridi. The towering 18-year-old left-armer has been having a fine time of it in the UAE of late.

First of all he bowled the underachieving Pakistan Super League franchise to rare success, as they won the first Abu Dhabi T20 at the Zayed Stadium last month.

That has fuelled a steady run of form in the national team, too. His three for 20, which included the wickets of Glenn Phillips, Kane Williamson and Tim Seifert, was his best return yet in the green of Pakistan.

New Zealand did manage to get to 153 for seven from their 20 overs, though, thanks to an excellent hand by Corey Anderson in the late overs. The burly left-hander hit two sixes and four boundaries in a 25-ball innings worth 44.