18 Apr, 2023

New Zealand finally won a match in the five-match series against Pakistan and managed to keep the series alive. Just when they needed a win in order to have a chance at winning the series — since Pakistan has won two matches so far — their team came through and succeeded with a close four-run win in the third T20i at Gaddafi Stadium in Lahore last night.

But one Pakistani made sure the Kiwis had a hard time earning that win. Iftikhar Ahmed’s fiery batting won the hearts of Twitter, despite the national side losing the match.

New Zealand kept picking wickets at regular intervals, reducing Pakistan to 88-7 only for Iftikhar to smash 60 off 24 balls, forging a 61-run partnership with Faheem Ashraf and forcing a grandstand finish.

Faheem fell after hitting two sixes and as many fours in the penultimate over but Pakistan was still well-placed with Iftikhar at the crease. Unfortunately, Iftikhar, who slammed six sixes and three fours, was caught on the fourth ball of the final over and Pakistan was dismissed for 159.

Despite the loss, cricket fans are celebrating Iftikhar’s performance. In other words, ‘Ifti-mania’ has taken over.

Peshawar Zalmi’s Muhammad Haris and cricketer Saeed Ajmal also praised the batsman.

The 32-year-old is referred to as ‘chacha’ (or a variation of the word) out of endearment.

Some users expressed disappointment that his amazing performance couldn’t get the side a victory.

But hey, the batter gave his all.

His performance was more than enough for fans to demand his placement at number sixth position in the upcoming World Cup squad.

People wondered why the batsman was sent in at number eight. They believe Iftikhar should’ve gone at number six or higher, potentially changing the outcome of the match.