Pakistan celebrated skipper Babar Azam’s 100th international match in the shortest format with a clinical 88-run win in the first Twenty20 against New Zealand in Lahore on Friday.
Azam failed with just nine runs but Fakhar Zaman and Saim Ayub scored 47 runs each and put on a 79-run partnership for the third wicket to anchor Pakistan to 182 all out in 19.5 overs.
Fast bowler Haris Rauf, one of five players who returned after being rested in Pakistan’s last series against Afghanistan, took career best figures of 4-18 as New Zealand were 94 all out in 15.3 overs.
Left-arm spinner Imad Wasim finished with 2-2 in his only over — taking both his wickets off successive deliveries.
Mark Chapman top-scored with 27-ball 34 inclusive of four boundaries and a six while skipper Tom Latham made 24-ball 20.
Rauf’s previous best T20 figures of 4-22 had also come against New Zealand in Sharjah in 2021.
Earlier, Zaman and Ayub lifted Pakistan from a poor start after they won the toss and batted.
Pakistan lost both their openers — Mohammad Rizwan leg-before for eight and then Azam bowled — to pacer Adam Milne by the fifth over for just 30.
Ayub lifted the tempo with two boundaries each off Milne and Ben Lister before he and Zaman hit a six each off spinner Ish Sodhi in the tenth over.
Zaman struck four boundaries and two sixes in his 34-ball knock while Ayub’s rapid 28-ball innings featured two sixes and six fours.
Ayub was run out while taking a second run before Zaman was caught at deep square-leg off Sodhi.
Faheem Ashraf hit a 16-ball 22 while Wasim scored 16 off 13 balls to help Pakistan add 47 runs in the last five overs.
Henry was the pick of the New Zealand bowlers with 3-32, as Pakistan were bowled out on the penultimate ball.
Lister had figures of 2-30 while Milne finished with 2-51.
The remaining four matches are in Lahore (April 15, 17) and Rawalpindi (April 20 and 24).
Pakistan: Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Babar Azam (c), Fakhar Zaman, Saim Ayub, Shadab Khan, Iftikhar Ahmed, Imad Wasim, Faheem Ashraf, Shaheen Afridi, Haris Rauf, Zaman Khan
New Zealand: Tom Latham (wk/c), Chad Bowes, Will Young, Daryl Mitchell, Mark Chapman, James Neesham, Rachin Ravindra, Adam Milne, Matt Henry, Ish Sodhi, Ben Lister