High-flying Pakistan eye 11th straight T20 series triumph
DUBAI: Pakistan will look to finish off the series when they face New Zealand in the second Twenty20 International here at the Dubai International Stadium on Friday.
For a team coming out of a seven-month hiatus from international cricket, New Zealand did quite well to brush off the dust and give Pakistan a scare in the first T20 of the three-match series at Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Stadium.
Having been restricted to 148-6 by a varied New Zealand attack, Pakistan were able to escape with a two-run victory. Pakistan will now have their eyes set on closing out the series in the very next game, to build on the 10-series winning streak.
New Zealand will rue the missed opportunity in the first game, but will take heart from what was still quite a decent performance.
The tourists’ bowling and top-order batting were particularly good, but they will want to be better prepared to tackle the spinners with the slightly softer ball in the middle overs.
In the first game, they slipped from 79-1 to 89-4, which severely dented their chase. Colin Munro did the heavy scoring at the top of the order with a 42-ball 58, but after his dismissal things went downhill.
The New Zealand batsmen will want to take a leaf out of Ross Taylor’s book in their quest to capitalise on the middle-overs. The veteran batsman scored a fantastic 42 not out off just 26 deliveries even as wickets tumbled rapidly at the other end. They know that if just one other batsman had chipped in, the result might have been different.
Pakistan will be pleased that they were able to post a decent total on a tricky pitch even though Babar Azam finally failed at the top of the order his scores of 68 not out, 45 and 50 were crucial in Pakistan clean-sweeping Australia in the preceding T20 series. He was dismissed for seven by Adam Milne, but Asif Ali, Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfraz Ahmed chipped in with sizeable contributions to steady the side.
For Pakistan to continue winning, it will be crucial for the spinners to continue bowling the way they have, but New Zealand’s prospects of milking runs will improve significantly if captain Kane Williamson a naturally sound player of spin finds form in the second game.