BLACKCAPS 135 (Corey Anderson 48, Luke Ronchi 33, Martin Guptill 32) lost to Pakistan 140-3 in 19.1 overs (Sarfraz Ahmed 76, Umar Akmal 27, Mitchell McClenaghan 1-21) by seven wickets at Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Sarfraz Ahmed's 76 from 64 balls lead Pakistan to a comprehensive seven wicket win in the first of two Twenty20 matches in Dubai. The BLACKCAPS came back well after losing early wickets, but were restricted to 25 runs from the last five overs to leave them short on the scoreboard, and always playing catch up in the field.
Stand in skipper Kane Williamson mixed up the attack, using five different bowlers in the first six overs, but they were unable to make the early breakthrough. Sarfraz Ahmed started strongly and was prepared to swing hard at the bad balls, as well as working singles.
The first wicket fell when Awais Zia pushed a single to Anton Devcich, who got it back to Nathan McCullum, who removed the bails just in time to send him on his way for 20.
Shortly afterwards, Luke Ronchi threw down the stumps from wicketkeeper to run out Mohammed Hafeez for two in a super piece of work. But when the BLACKCAPS needed more wickets, and that of Sarfraz in particular to make a contest of it, Pakistan targeted Corey Anderson, who conceded 17 runs from the 11th over, as Sarfraz bought up his 50.
Adam Milne was working up serious pace, recording a 152.1 KPH delivery, and Pakistan played him with respect, going for just 18 from his four overs.
Umar Akmal had joined Sarfraz and went on the attack as the run rate required came back to a run a ball and under. He ended the game with a booming six down the ground from Jimmy Neesham from the first ball of the last over to finish on 27 from 24 balls, with Sarfraz unbeaten on 76 at the other end.
In the first innings, stand in skipper Kane Williamson lost the toss and Pakistan's decision to bowl was proved correct with a flurry of early wickets. Williamson was the first to go, trapped lbw for a duck on the third ball. Anton Devcich (1) and Ross Taylor (4) went soon after, reducing the BLACKCAPS to the precarious position of 15-3.
Martin Guptill, off the back of 129 against Ireland for NZ A in a one dayer, held things together for the BLACKCAPS and began to rebuild with Corey Anderson, the pair put on 26 for the fourth wicket, somewhat stemming Pakistan's momentum.
Shahid Afridi deceived Guptill to bowl him for 32, but Anderson was just getting started and was beginning to display his raw power. The 23-year-old blasted four sixes in his 37 ball knock, before being caught on the boundary two short of his half-century.
At 112-5 in the 16th over, the BLACKCAPS had a handy platform to launch from, but a string of late wickets would see them fail to take advantage.
Luke Ronchi contributed nicely for 33, but three wickets for the final 18 runs meant the BLACKCAPS would fall short of the 150 mark. It was a defendable total, but would require something special from the bowlers.