x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Gul's haul hands Pakistan victory

Umer Gul claims the first five wicket haul in Twenty20 internationals as Pakistan overwhelmed New Zealand at the Oval.

LONDON // Umer Gul claimed the first five wicket haul in Twenty20 internationals as Pakistan totally overwhelmed bedraggled New Zealand at the Oval. Gul was the sixth bowler used by the Pakistan captain, Younus Khan, and only entered the attack in the 13th over. But he made up for lost time quickly, taking five wickets for six runs as the Black Caps subsided meekly from 73 for four to 99 all out. Pakistan made short work of the reply, racing to a six wicket victory in just 13.1 overs. The Habib Bank quick-bowler has an astonishing record in this format. Three of the best seven bowling figures belong to him, including the four for eight which he took against Australia in Dubai last month, which ranks third on the list. The Asian side dominated entirely, bar the first over of the game. "We need to be better starters," said Younus, following his side's defeat to Sri Lanka 24 hours earlier. They did not exactly follow his orders. The first ball of the innings, sent down by the teenager, Mohammed Amir, disappeared to the cover fence. By the end of the over Pakistan were 10 runs in arrears. That was about all that did go wrong. Abdul Razzaq, in his first game back after two years in the wilderness because of his association with the Indian Cricket League, took the new ball from the other end. He took a wicket in his first over, the key one of McCullum, who was caught after flaying an uppish drive to Fawad Alam at point. He followed that up with a rare maiden, just the third of the tournament to date, and eventually finished with figures of two for 17. As uplifting as his return was, it was, like everything else, overshadowed by Gul's effort, which was started off by a stunning catch running back towards the long on fence by Shahid Afridi. Shahzaib Hasan, the newcomer, got the reply off to a rapid start for Pakistan before running himself out for 35. When Shoaib Malik went promptly afterwards, becoming a second victim for the returning New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori, Pakistan did seem to be threatening the sort of implosion in which they specialise. However, the ever-popular Afridi then made short-work of the run chase as Pakistan won with 6.5 overs to spare, and in so doing bolstered their net run-rate to leave themselves virtually certain of a semi-final place. pradley@thenational.ae