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22 February 2024

1st T20: Amir claims wicket on return as Pakistan win

By Cricket Correspondent and Agencies

Paceman Mohammad Amir claimed a wicket on his return to international cricket following a five-year ban as Pakistan registered a 16-run victory over New Zealand in the first Twenty20 International in Auckland on Friday.

Playing his first match for Pakistan after being banned for taking payments to bowl no-balls, the 23-year-old toiled without much luck before claiming a wicket off his final delivery to finish with figures of 1-31.

Home skipper Kane Williamson (70) and Colin Munro (56) had seemingly set New Zealand on course to reach the 172-run victory target before their chase stalled and the hosts were dismissed for 155 in exactly 20 overs.

After being asked to bat, former captain Mohammad Hafeez (61) helped the tourists overcome a slow start, hitting Trent Boult for back-to-back fours and clobbering Corey Anderson for two boundaries and a six in the same over.

Pakistan skipper Shahid Afridi (23) hit two sixes and a couple of fours in the same Matt Henry over in a typically busy eight-ball knock, while Umar Akmal (24) chipped in with a 14-ball cameo to help Pakistan put up a competitive 171-8 total.

Amir received visa clearance for New Zealand only last week and appeared nervous with the new ball in his hand, starting with a wide and soon opting for a change of ends.

However, he came close to claiming a wicket in his second over but Afridi spilt a simple catch to reprieve Williamson, then on five.

Batting at the other end, Munro decided to counter-attack, belting three sixes and a four off the last four deliveries of Umar Gul's second over en route to a 25-ball fifty.

Pakistan regained control of the contest when Wahab Riaz (3-34) ended Munro's eventful knock before Afrid dismissed Grant Elliott and Luke Ronchi in the same over to jolt the hosts.

Amir endured a second slice of misfortune when Sohaib Maqsood dropped debutant Todd Astle off his bowling before he finally tasted success in the penultimate over, this time Afridi making no mistake in taking the catch to account for Henry.

Hamilton hosts the second of three Twenty20 Internationals between the sides on Sunday before they embark on a three-match one-day international series.

New Zealand are all out for 155 with Boult being dismissed off the last ball as Pakistan win by 16 runs.

Trent Boult c Afridi b Wahab Riaz 0 (3b)

New Zealand's faint hopes fade as Williamson falls. NZ 152-9, 19.1 overs.

Kane Williamson c Mohammad Hafeez b Wahab Riaz 70 (60b 6x4 1x6)
Amir claims his first wicket since his return to international cricket. NZ 152-8, 19 overs.

Matt Henry c Shahid Afridi b Mohammad Amir 10 (5b 2x4)

Gul strikes castling Astle with a yorker. NZ 138-7, 17.4 overs.

Todd Astle b Umar Gul 1 (5b)

Williamson slams a six and boundary to complete his half century. NZ 122-6, 16 overs.

Afridi takes a brilliant catch to dismiss Santner. NZ 108-6, 14.4 overs.

M Santner c Afridi b Umar Gul 0 (4b)

Double strike by Afridi as Ronchi departs. NZ 107-5, 13.5 overs.

Luke Ronchi c Shehzad b Afridi 0 (4b)

Afridi strikes as Elliott drags a wrong 'un into his stumps. NZ 107-4, 13.1 overs.

Grant Elliott b Shahid Afridi 3 (5b)

Double blow for New Zealand as Anderson goes for a duck. NZ 92-3, 11 overs.

Corey Anderson c and b Imad Wasim 0 (2b)

Riaz strikes castling Munro. NZ 89-2, 10 overs

Colin Munro b Wahab Riaz 56 (27b 2x4 6x6)

Munro swings Riaz for his sixth six to complete a 25-ball half century.

Munro is on fire top edging a bouncer from Riaz to fine leg. NZ 74-1, 8 overs.

Munro does not spare Afridi as the left hander swings him over the midwicket fence. NZ 63-1, 7 overs.

Gul comes into the attack replacing Amir (2-0-10-0) and goes for 23 as Munro whacks three sixes, including an upper cut over the keeper, and a boundary. NZ 48-1, 6 overs.

Afridi drops a skier from Williamson off Amir. NZ 20-1, 4 overs.

A terrible mix-up results in Williamson and Guptill being stranded in the middle. NZ 9-1, 1.5 overs.

Martin Guptill run out 2 (3b)

Amir's tidy opening over is spoiled by four leg byes. NZ 8-0, 1 over.

New Zealand innings

New Zealand have restricted Pakistan to 171 for 8 despite a composed half century from Hafeez (61) and belligerent knocks from Afridi (23) and Akmal (24).

Milne claimed four for 37 and Santner two for 14.

Wickets tumble as Wasim departs. Pak 168-8, 19.2 overs.

Imad Wasim c Boult b Henry 18 (9b 1x4 1x6)

Milne claims his fourth wicket as Sarfraz falls. Pak 167-7, 19 overs.

Sarfraz Ahmed c Williamson b Milne 2 (3b)

Wasim hammers a six and boundary off Boult to maintain the momentum. Pak 161-6, 18 overs.

Double blow for Pakistan as Afridi departs. Pak 147-6, 17.1 overs.

Shahid Afridi c Williamson b Boult 23 (8b 2x4 2x6)

Akmal also gets into the act smashing Milne for a massive six down the ground before slicing to Munro in the covers. Pak 146-5, 16.5 overs.

Umar Akmal c Munro b Milne 24 (14b 1x4 1x6)

Henry goes for 23 as Afridi goes berserk hammering a couple of sixes and boundaries off consecutive balls square of the wicket on either side. Pak 134-4, 16 overs.

Hafeez departs miscuing Milne to square leg. Pak 110-4, 14.5 overs.

Mohammad Hafeez c Astle b Milne 61 (47b 8x4 2x6)

Hafeez completes his half century off 36 balls. Pak 94-3, 13 overs.

Santner strikes as Malik lofts a slower ball straight to Elliott at long-off. Pak 78-3, 10.4 overs.

Shoaib Malik c Elliott b Santner 20 (18b 1x4 1x6)

Malik breaks the shackles by lofting Astle straight over the bowler's head for a towering six followed by a boundary. Pak 77-2, 10 overs.

Spinner Santner strikes with his first delivery as Maqsood gives him the charge only to be stumped. Pak 52-2, 6.1 overs.

Sohaib Maqsood st Ronchi b Santner 0 (2b)

Hafeez is on fire cracking a couple of boundaries and then slamming Anderson over the sight screen. Pak 52-1, 6 overs.

Shehzad hammers a boundary and towering six but Milne has the last laugh as Elliott pouches a skier. Pak 33-1, 4.4 overs.

Ahmed Shehzad c Elliott b Milne 16 (14b 2x4 1x6)

Hafeez is turning it on hammering a couple of boundaries on either side of the wicket off Boult. Pak 23-0, 4 overs.

Shehzad gets going pulling Henry to the midwicket fence. Pak 11-0, 3 overs.

Hafeez hits the first boundary of the match driving Boult through the offside cordon. Pak 6-0, 2 overs.

Henry begins with a maiden to Hafeez. Pak 0-0, 1 over.

Debut for Todd Astle. Ross Taylor is sitting out this game and Mitchell McClenaghan has a niggle. Matt Henry comes in.

The big news from Pakistan is the return of Amir after five years.


New Zealand: KS Williamson, CJ Anderson, TD Astle, TA Boult, GD Elliott, MJ Guptill, MJ Henry, TWM Latham, MJ McClenaghan, AF Milne, C Munro, L Ronchi, MJ Santner, LRPL Taylor

Pakistan: Shahid Afridi, Aamer Yamin, Ahmed Shehzad, Anwar Ali, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Hafeez, Mohammad Rizwan, Saad Nasim, Sarfraz Ahmed, Shoaib Malik, Sohaib Maqsood, Umar Akmal, Umar Gul, Wahab Riaz

New Zealand have won the toss and put Pakistan into bat.


The eyes of the cricket world will be on Pakistan in New Zealand on Friday with Mohammad Amir set to make his international comeback after serving a jail term and five-year ban for spot-fixing.

The 23-year-old is expected to be named in the starting lineup for the tour-opening Twenty20 when Pakistan will pit their hostile bowling attack against a New Zealand unit brimming with form batsmen.

Pakistan coach Waqar Younis said he expected the young quick to cope with the intense scrutiny he will come under when he starts to bowl.

"It is hard to exactly tell how the whole thing is going to come up but my experience says that he is a smart kid, even at the age of 18 he was smart then," Waqar said.

"He knows what he is doing and he is ready for that challenge."

Amir was banned for five years in 2010 after being found guilty of spot fixing by deliberately bowling no-balls in a test against England at Lords.

His return to the world stage adds to a bountiful pace armoury for Pakistan, which includes Anwar Ali, Aamer Yamin, Umar Gul and Wahab Riaz.

Riaz said Amir's in-swing ability with the new ball added to a range of hostile options.

"He's getting a chance. He's a great fast bowler, he's proved that in the past. It's time for him to prove here as well. And he will prove it," Riaz said.

"With him there's less pressure on me as a bowler, because I'm getting his support. Umar Gul is back and is doing really well. It's going to be a good combination for Pakistan."

Pakistan appear to have a much stronger bowling attack than the recently departed Sri Lankans, although opening batsman Ahmed Shehzad said Thursday New Zealand had to take a lot of credit for the way they batted.

"No doubt, they are playing wonderful cricket at the moment," he said, referring to New Zealand's 2-0 sweep in the Twenty20s against Sri Lanka following their 3-1 domination of the one day internationals and 2-0 Test victory.

"We are all aware of the style that they are playing is awesome to see actually, but we have to match them, and the boys are very prepared and ready to put up a good show," he said.

The Eden Park ground has small boundaries which makes it ideal for the big hitters at the top of the New Zealand order.

Against Sri Lanka on Sunday, when New Zealand won by nine wickets with 60 balls to spare, Martin Guptill scored 63 off 25 deliveries, Colin Munro hit 50 off 14 while Kane Williamson added 31 off 21.

"They are playing without any fear and they have no issues with their places," Shehzad added.

New Zealand will take on Pakistan in three Twenty20s and three ODIs.