Pakistan's cricket tour of New Zealand got off to the worst possible start as Auckland Aces dealt them a five-wicket loss in a one-sided Twenty20 match at Colin Maiden Park in Auckland today.
Pakistan were almost doomed to defeat when Auckland left-armer Michael Bates claimed three wickets in his first two overs to reduce the tourists to seven for three. They never recovered and were skittled for 91 in the 18th over, Bates ending with four for 11 from three overs while left-arm spinner Roneel Hira continued his impressive form from the domestic competition with two for 21 from four.
Talented young batsman Umar Akmal top-scored with 25 from 29 balls in a disappointing Pakistan innings which contained just five fours and one six.
Auckland, the leading team in the domestic competition, lost five wickets in the chase but were always in control.
Colin de Grandhomme hammered a quickfire 20 at the top of the order while international Martin Guptill anchored the innings, if there is such a thing in Twenty20 cricket, with an unbeaten 28 from 30 balls in a tick over an hour at the crease as Auckland reached the target in the 14th over.
There were some positive signs for two of Pakistan's key bowlers as speedster Shoaib Akhtar and offspinner Saeed Ajmal claimed two wickets each in worthy four-over spells of two for 31 and two for 20, respectively, but the visitors will need to address their discipline after conceding 17 extras.
Pakistan's next match is the first of three Twenty20 internationals against New Zealand, at Auckland on Sunday.