Shaheen Afridi Reflects on New Zealand Loss, Praise Saim Ayub’s Worthy Effort

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Shaheen Afridi Reflects on New Zealand Loss, Praise Saim Ayub's Worthy Effort
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In the aftermath of Pakistan’s 46-run defeat to New Zealand in the first T20I at Eden Park, Auckland, on Friday, Captain Shaheen Shah Afridi shared his thoughts. It marked a challenging start for Afridi as he led the team in the shortest format for the first time.

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Expressing pride in captaining the country, Afridi acknowledged the difficulties posed by the short boundaries for fast bowlers. Despite the setback, he emphasized the positive aspects of Pakistan’s performance, stating,

“It’s just a start, and we played very good cricket. We will try to give our best in the next few games.”

Afridi took a moment to appreciate opener Saim Ayub, who showcased a promising innings, scoring 27 off just 8 balls during Pakistan’s run-chase. He viewed Ayub’s performance as a positive sign, acknowledging the need to provide young players like him with time, especially in preparation for the upcoming World Cup.

Despite Ayub’s impressive start, Pakistan faltered in their chase, reaching 130-4 in 12.4 overs. Azam Khan’s disappointing performance with the bat added to the team’s challenges. Fakhar Zaman (15 off 10), Iftikhar Ahmed (24 off 17), and Azam Khan (10 off 9) struggled at the crease.

Former skipper Babar Azam emerged as the top-scorer for Pakistan, contributing 57 runs off 35 balls. However, his efforts fell short of the imposing target set by the Black Caps. Tim Southee, celebrating his 150th T20I wicket, claimed three wickets, while Adam Milne and Ben Sears took two each.

In the first innings, Daryl Mitchell and Kane Williamson shone for New Zealand, scoring 57 and 61 runs, respectively. Williamson’s dropped catch by Babar Azam at 11 provided a lifeline, and he capitalized on it, leading to a fantastic half-century.

While Williamson’s strike rate was not exceptionally high (135.71), it created opportunities for aggressive players like Finn Allen (35 off 15) and Mitchell (61 off 27), boasting strike rates of 233 and 255, respectively. Mark Chapman, down the order, contributed a quick 26 off just 11 deliveries.

Pakistan’s bowlers faced a tough challenge, with Abbas Afridi and Haris Rauf maintaining a decent economy of 8.50 each. Afridi, who started well with a wicket in the first over, struggled later, conceding 46 runs while securing three wickets. Aamer Jamal conceded 56, and Usama Mir was hit for 51 runs in four overs.

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