New Zealand 144 for 8 (Williamson 32, Ronchi 31, Gul 2-24) beat Pakistan 127 (Shehzad 33, Afridi 28, Mills 3-26, Neesham 3-25) by 17 runs
Scorecard and ball-by-ball details
Like the Test series that preceded the Twenty20 games, New Zealand forged a comeback to beat Pakistan by 17 runs in Dubai to square the two-match series 1-1. A chase of 145 proved challenging on a slow pitch and New Zealand's slower bowlers made use of the conditions and relatively little dew to keep a tight grip on the chase.
Despite the early wickets, the result of Man-of-the-Match Anton Devcich's surprise spell at the top of the innings, Pakistan were in the game. The New Zealand bowlers had squeezed the equation down to 54 off the last five overs but with Shahid Afridi at the crease, Pakistan had more than a whiff of a chance. That chance evaporated in the 18th over, one of the worst of the innings, as Afridi was caught behind off a pull shot, after having smacked the previous ball bowled by a nervous James Neesham for a six.
Devcich opened the bowling for the first time in T20s and set up New Zealand's good start with the wickets of Sarfraz Ahmed and Mohammad Hafeez. Sarfraz's lbw was a doubtful decision, whereas Hafeez lobbed a return catch off a straight length ball.
Even at 24 for 3 in the fifth over, Pakistan's chase had not disintegrated. Ahmed Shehzad, playing his first game since a skull fracture, anchored the innings with a 40-run stand with Saad Nasim.
Nasim's dismissal though instigated a stutter. Vettori, playing his first T20 international since 2012, dismissed Shehzad for 33. Umar Akmal, Anwar Ali and Afridi fell in the next three overs and the match ended in the 19th. The wickets were neatly divided between the New Zealand bowlers - Devcich broke the top order finishing with 2 for 16, Neesham's 3 for 25 scooped out the middle-order and Kyle Mills then cleaned up the tail.
Both sides had gone into the game with a few changes. Pakistan brought back Shehzad and Gul in place of Awais Zia and Mohammad Irfan. New Zealand's changes were also forced by fitness concerns. A tight hamstring kept Martin Guptill out, while Corey Anderson was rested as a precaution after being hit on the helmet during the first T20. Dean Brownlie and Tom Latham were brought in their place and Kane Williamson had hoped that the depth in batting could help the side do better than the 135 they managed in the first game. They did, but only barely.
Williamson and Devcich did their job at the start of the innings, sharing a solid 49-run stand in seven overs. Williamson led the way, with pleasing footwork, especially against Gul, during his 32. After the Powerplay though, things went downhill. Hafeez added another left-handed batsman to his tally with Devcich's dismissal, Afridi got Brownlie and Williamson in successive overs which left Latham and Ross Taylor having to start all over again.
Taylor fell in the 13th over and the revival New Zealand needed, although a brief one, came in the form of a lively stand between Latham and Luke Ronchi, the latter reprising his rescue-act role from the first match. Their 38-run stand came off 23 deliveries courtesy Latham's sweeps and two towering, successive sixes from Ronchi.
Both players fell in successive overs towards the end of the innings, but their stand had done enough to help New Zealand put together 51 runs in the last five overs and their pace eventually made the difference.