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Pakistan’s captain Babar Azam speaks at the post-match ceremony in Rawalpindi after third T20I match at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on April 21, 2024. —  YouTube/Pakistan Cricket

Pakistan’s skipper Babar Azam has opened up on the team’s loss against New Zealand in the third T20I on Sunday, saying that the national side fell short of scoring the necessary runs to successfully defend their target.

“I don’t think it [slow run-rate during the middle overs] made much of a difference because we had caught up. You can say we were 10 runs short,” Babar said while speaking at the post-match ceremony.

“Unfortunately, we had a bit of a setback with Rizwan [injury] because it wasn’t easy for new batsmen but I think Shadab [Khan] recovered well and had an outstanding partnership with Irfan. In Pindi, 180-190 is a par score. In batting, we did well,” the skipper added.

His remarks come as the Green Shirts posted a 179-run target at the loss of four wickets after being put to bat first at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium.

However, the Black Caps made a stunning comeback in the five-match T20I series, courtesy of Mark Chapman who led the visitors to victory by seven wickets in the third match at the Pindi Cricket Stadium.

New Zealand had a great start to the 179-run target with openers Tim Robinson (28) and Tim Seifert (21), scoring 42 runs for the first wicket.

The home side looked to stage a comeback with back-to-back dismissals by Naseem Shah and Abbas Afridi but Chapman, paired with Dean Foxcroft had their plans.

The five-match series is now levelled at 1-1 with two remaining matches scheduled to be played on April 25 and 27 at Lahore’s Gaddafi Stadium.

Earlier for Pakistan, the opening duo of Saim Ayub and Babar made 54/0. Saim was caught by James Neesham off Ish Sodhi’s bowling after scoring 32 runs from 22 balls at a strike rate of 145.45.

Babar looked in great touch but was caught by Jacob Duffy, bowled by Michael Bracewell, He contributed 37 runs off 29 deliveries at a strike rate of 127.5.

Mohammad Rizwan had to retire hurt after scoring 23 runs from 22 balls, with Irfan Khan replacing him.

Usman Khan again couldn’t score much and was dismissed after scoring 4 runs from 6 balls.

Irfan was joined by all-rounder Shadab and the duo smashed an explosive partnership with the latter dominating the proceedings.

In a 62-run partnership, Shadab stroked 41 runs off 20 balls with the help of six boundaries.

Meanwhile, Irfan finished on 20-ball 30, smashing three fours and a six.

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