It was a good sign for Pakistan to enter the World Cup in Australia, with an opener against arch-rival India on October 23.
After the hosts finished 163-7 at Hagley Oval, spinner Michael Bracewell checked Pakistan’s early momentum in the tourists’ response, before Nawaz came in with his decisive 38 from 22 balls.
Haider Ali also made a useful 31 from 15 balls.
After also helping Pakistan out of trouble in Thursday’s dead-rubber victory over Bangladesh, Nawaz produced another great inning before Iftikhar Ahmed sealed the win with a six in the final.
𝐈𝐌𝐏𝐀𝐂𝐓 𝐏𝐋𝐀𝐘𝐄𝐑 💫@mnawaz94 is the #NZTriSeries final player for his 22-ball 38 not out and 1-33 numbers 🏅… https://t.co/t5duFYGebk
— Pakistani cricket (@TheRealPCB) 1665725872000
“I supported myself yesterday and today as I came in, all the preparations in the nets made me have a clear mind,” said man-of-the-match Nawaz.
“I’ve been in the middle of club cricket, which helps a lot, and I was very happy to meet the expectations of the team.”
The Black Caps — last year’s World Cup finalists — got off to a good start with captain Kane Williamson as the top scorer with a masterful display of stroke play to score 59 from 38 balls.
The hosts flew out of the traps with Finn Allen hitting three fours before being caught by Naseem Shah for 12 from six balls.
Sealed with a six! 👏Pakistan wins the #NZTriSeries final by five wickets 🙌#PAKvNZ https://t.co/5Ga5tPhdme
— Pakistani cricket (@TheRealPCB) 1665725060000
Williamson came in to calm nerves with his first half-century in any format in 2022 after struggling to form after an elbow injury.
“It was a great game, Pakistan is a strong side and all credit for the way they turned the momentum of the game,” Williamson said.
“There was a lot of good in it, but it was frustrating not to cross the line.”
In response, in his 100th international T20 appearance, formidable Pakistani openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan crushed Tim Southee for nine runs in the opening, then beat Trent Boult for 10 in the second.
A sizzling collaboration between Mohammad Nawaz (38* out of 22) & Haider Ali (31 out of 15) along with a final on SIX of I… https://t.co/vowewqIjui
— BLACKCAPS (@BLACKCAPS) 1665726068000
Bracewell then stepped in and grabbed the wickets of Azam and Shan Masood, and Ish Sodhi caught danger man Rizwan lbw for 34 runs from 29 balls.
But just like he did against Bangladesh, Nawaz came to the crease to regain control of the match.
Iftikhar’s towering three-ball six took the win in style.
“It’s disappointing that we can’t take home the winners’ cup,” said Bracewell, who finished man of the series.
“What lost us in the game was those last few overs on both sides, but we can take a lot of positives into the World Cup.”