Amir returns as Pakistan beat New Zealand
Pakistan paceman Mohammad Amir took a wicket in a winning return to international cricket as New Zealand were beaten by 15 runs in the first game of the three-match Twenty20 series at Eden Park.
Amir was recalled after serving a five-year ban for his involvement in the 2010 spot-fixing scandal and the left-armer saw two catches dropped off his bowling on Friday as he finished with figures of 1-31 from his four overs.
Kane Williamson (70 from 60 balls) was put down by Shahid Afridi in Amir’s second over and went on to make his highest T20 international score, but New Zealand were unable to get home after Mohammad Hafeez top scored with 61 in Pakistan’s total of 171-8.
Adam Milne took T20 career-best figures of 4-37 and Colin Munro (56 from 27) conjured up another rapid half-century in a losing cause for the Black Caps, with Pakistan responding to their series whitewash against England in impressive fashion.
Matt Henry (1-31) started with a maiden after Williamson put the tourists in and Ahmed Shehzad (16) struck Milne for 10 off two deliveries in the fifth over, but was caught attempting to strike a third consecutive boundary.
Hafeez then came to the fore, taking 18 off the following over from Corey Anderson and going on to hit two sixes and eight boundaries in a crucial innings before he was caught at square leg to become Milne’s second victim.
Mitchell Santner recorded impressive figures of 2-14, but skipper Shahid Afridi (23) struck 20 off four balls in the 16th over from Henry to ensure Pakistan posted a more challenging total.
All eyes were on Amir when he was given the ball for the first over of New Zealand’s run chase and, after starting with a wide, he soon got into his rhythm.
A shambolic run out saw the back of the dangerous Martin Guptill (2) in the second over, then Williamson had a life when Afridi dropped a simple catch to deny Amir a wicket.
Munro hit the second-fastest T20 international half-century in Sunday’s victory against Sri Lanka and smashed another six sixes in a brutal innings before he was bowled by Wahab Riaz (3-34).
Umar Gul (2-38) also impressed and Afridi clung on to a catch offered by Henry to give Amir the wicket he deserved after Sohaib Maqsood had put debutant Todd Astle down, with Williamson out in the final over from Wahab as the Black Caps fell well short.