Shahid Afridi became the man of the match © AFP (File photo)
Shahid Afridi became the man of the match © AFP (File photo)

Pakistan Twenty20 International (T20I) skipper Shahid Afridi delivered his best game as the tourists won the series opener against hosts New Zealand at Eden Park, Auckland by a 16-run margin. After winning the toss, New Zealand elected to field and sent the visitors to bat. Pakistan started off really slow with a maiden over and losing a few early wickets. Their ace opener Ahmed Shehzad departed making only 16 runs while Sohaib Maqsood followed him for a duck. The next man in Shoaib Malik also failed o impress as he scored only 20 runs off 18 deliveries. The most commendable effort came from opener Mohammad Hafeez as he stayed there despite all odds and kept on scoring runs while wickets kept falling. Hafeez went on to score 61 off 47 balls and gave Pakistan an ample boost of runs. Hafeez became the sixth highest scorer in Twenty20 Internationals (T20I) and the highest run-getter for Pakistan in T20Is. But the real game-changer for Pakistan was their skipper Shahid Afridi. Afridi scored 21 off 5 balls in a Matt Henry over and accelerated Pakistan’s innings. Umar Akmal and Imad Wasim also added some crucial runs with the help of boundaries. Pakistan, who were in back-foot in the beginning, put up a score of 171 with the loss of 8 wickets in their 20 overs. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: New Zealand vs Pakistan, 1st T20I at Auckland

For New Zealand, it was Adam Milne who took the maximum number of wickets. Milne got 4 wickets for 37 runs, those including both the openers Ahmed Shehzad and  Mohammad Hafeez. He later on picked up Umar Akmal and Sarfraz Ahmed. Santner also bowled really well taking 2 wickets for 14 runs with an economy of 3.50. While Corey Anderson conceded 18 runs of his solitary over and couldn’t take any wicket, Matt Henry and Trent Boult bagged a wicket each.

Chasing the target, Martin Guptill departed early scoring only 2 but it was the partnership between Kane Williamson and Colin Munro. The partnership added 80 runs before Munro departed making 56 off 27 but the maximum contribution came from Kane Williamson who stayed there at the crease scoring 70 off 60 while wickets kept tumbling at the other end. New Zealand batting disappointed badly as apart from these two batsmen, only Matt Henry reached the double digit. While Wahab Riaz remained the highest wicket-taker with his 3-for-34, it was Shahid Afridi who took two wickets for 26 runs and took three catches as well to ensure Pakistan’s victory.Full Updates: New Zealand vs Pakistan 2016, 1st T20I at Auckland

Umar Gul took a couple of wickets for 38 runs. Shahid Afridi was rightly handed the Man of the Match award for his all-round performance.

Brief Scores:

Pakistan 171/8( Mohammad Hafeez 61, Shahid Afridi 23; Adam Milne 4 for 37) won by 16 runs against New Zealand( Kane Williamson 70, Colin Munro 56; Wahab Riaz 3 for 34, Shahid Afridi 2 for 26)

Full scorecard

(Paulami Chakraborty, a singer, dancer, artist, and photographer, loves the madness of cricket and writes about the game. She can be followed on Twitter at @Polotwitts)