Pakistan look to avoid t20i series loss
Blown away in the five-match One-Day International series and routed in the first Twenty20 International on Monday, Pakistan must address batting woes if they are not to concede the T20I series too when they take on New Zealand in the second of three matches at Eden Park in Auckland on Thursday (January 25).
Despite mixing up their personnel, the hosts have been red-hot this home summer, sitting as they are on a record 13-match winning streak across formats. The established stars have come to the party, as have newcomers who have shown no signs of stage-fright. Batting, bowling and fielding-wise, they have been far superior to a shoddy Pakistan unit that has seldom been competitive.
Pakistan’s biggest worry will be the lack of runs from the top order. They topped 250 in just two of the five ODIs, and suffered the ignominy of being shot out for a measly 74 in the third game in Dunedin. They made a horror start to the T20I series, slumping to 53 for 7, finally scrambling to 105 and conceding a seven-wicket hammering orchestrated by the bruising willow of Colin Munro.
Sarfraz Ahmed has the unenviable task of geeing up his troops ahead of the must-win second T20I, especially given that his own form in front of the stumps has been less than impressive. His dismissal, slipping on dancing down the track and doing the splits to be embarrassingly stumped in the first T20I, summed up Pakistan’s slippery slide on this tour. On a high after the Champions Trophy triumph in England in June which they followed up with 5-0 and 3-0 ODI and T20I whitewashes of Sri Lanka, Pakistan have been found out in the unforgiving conditions in New Zealand.
The Kiwi pacemen have used the new ball to telling effect, thriving on bounce and movement to undermine Pakistan. Pakistan’s bowlers haven’t been too shabby themselves, but their batsmen have seldom given them enough runs to play with. “We’re not batting well enough up the order,” Sarfraz conceded after the Wellington defeat on Monday. “The new ball was swinging and bouncing, we didn’t keep wickets in hand. They bowled very well with the new ball. If we had a score of 140-150, it could have been a good match.”
Tim Southee is Pakistan’s primary tormentor the other day with 3 for 13, but he rested for Thursday’s showdown. That, however, not offer any respite to Pakistan’s beleaguered batting line-up, what with Trent Boult, the left-arm swing bowler, and Lockie Ferguson, the right-arm paceman, both returning to the mix after being rested for the first match. Pakistan found the duo more than a handful in the ODIs; unless there is a miraculous turnaround in mindset and technique, they are likely to run into more problems with the series on the line.
New Zealand also rested Kane Williamson for the first T20I as a precautionary after the skipper picked up a late thigh injury.
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