Afridi stars as Pakistan level T20 series with NZ

Pace ace Shaheen Shah Afridi has taken 4-30 to lead Pakistan to a nine-run win over a tough New Zealand side in their fifth and final Twenty20 while levelling their series at 2-2.

Batting allrounder Josh Clarkson looked like getting New Zealand a stunning series win but his last two partners ran themselves out trying to feed him the strike on Saturday.

New Zealand were all out for 169 with four balls left in reply to Pakistan's 5-178, and Clarkson finished with a career-best 38 not out off 26 balls.

Abbas Afridi gets NZ's Bracewell
Pakistan's Abbas Afridi celebrates the wicket of New Zealand skipper Michael Bracewell. (AP PHOTO)

The Kiwis came without nine frontline players and were expected to be swept in the series, which was also preparation for the T20 World Cup in June, but they've confounded everyone.

Pakistan rode captain Babar Azam's 69 off 44 balls but New Zealand continued the home team's struggles in the middle overs with disciplined spin and seam bowling.

"It was a par score but I think we should have scored 15, 20 runs more," Babar said.

"Throughout the series we tried different combinations and we wanted to see where our bench strength stands. There are many good signs but we won't be complacent."

Babar was fluent in the powerplay against the pacers., sharing 73 runs with Usman Khan, who scored 31 off 24 balls.

New Zealand clawed their way back. Ben Sears clean-bowled Babar with a fiery yorker but the seamer was punished by left-hander Fakhar Zaman (43) in the death overs, with Pakistan scoring 55 off the last five overs.

New Zealand's cruised to 1-81 in eight overs in reply before the top order was spun into knots.

Opener Tim Seifert, who missed the last game due to a sore back, clubbed Mohammad Amir for five boundaries and a six in the fast bowler's first two overs. He'd scored 52 off 33 when he was bowled by legspinner Usama Mir (2-21).

Mir also got the prized wicket of Mark Chapman (12) in his next over when the left-hander went for a sweep shot.

Michael Bracewell, who promoted himself to No.3, made 23 before he was caught at short midwicket off legspinner Shadab Khan. When Cole McConchie was lbw, New Zealand were 5-103.

Afridi outfoxed Tom Blundell in the first over and picked up two wickets in two balls when Jimmy Neesham couldn't pick up the slower ball and Zak Foulkes got a brutal yorker first up.

Afridi then earned his second four-wicket haul in T20s when he trapped Ish Sodhi.

Clarkson restored New Zealand hopes by smacking two sixes and three boundaries and reducing the winning task to 12 runs off the last over but his last two partners were run out.

"A draw is a pretty fair reflection of the series," Bracewell said.

"Credit to Pakistan, they played really well. We lost a couple of wickets in the middle and that put us on the back foot. We were keeping the run rate in check but those wickets were the turning point."