LAHORE: Pakistan celebrated skipper Babar Azam’s 100th international match in the shortest format with an 88-run victory over New Zealand in the first Twenty20 match in Lahore on Friday.
Azam fell for nine runs, but Fakhar Zaman and Saim Ayub scored 47 runs each and put on a 79-run third-wicket stand to help Pakistan reach 182 all out in 19.5 overs.
Haris Rauf, one of five players who returned after being rested in Pakistan’s previous series against Afghanistan, took 4-18 as New Zealand was all out in 15.3 overs.
Imad Wasim, a left-arm spinner, concluded with 2-2 in his only over, getting both his wickets on consecutive deliveries.
Mark Chapman led the way with 27-ball 34, including four boundaries and a six, while skipper Tom Latham finished with 24-ball 20.
Rauf’s previous best T20 score was 4-22 against New Zealand in Sharjah in 2021.
Earlier, after winning the toss and batting, Zaman and Ayub helped Pakistan recover from a shaky start.
Pakistan lost both openers, Mohammad Rizwan leg-before for eight and Azam bowled, to bowler Adam Milne in the fifth over for just 30 runs.
Ayub set the tone with two boundaries off Milne and Ben Lister before hitting a six off spinner Ish Sodhi in the tenth over.
Zaman’s 34-ball innings contained four boundaries and two sixes, while Ayub’s quick 28-ball innings featured two sixes and six fours.
Before Zaman was caught at deep square-leg off Sodhi, Ayub was run out while taking a second run.
Faheem Ashraf scored 22 off 16 balls and Wasim scored 16 off 13 balls to help Pakistan add 47 runs in the final five overs.
With 3-32, Henry was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers as Pakistan was bowled out on the penultimate delivery.
Lister finished with 2-30, while Milne finished with 2-51.
The remaining four matches will take place in Lahore (April 15, 17), Rawalpindi (April 20 and 24), and Islamabad (April 28).