TOSS – Pakistan opt to bowl and also make three changes.
New Zealand – Martin Guptill, Tim Seifert(w), Kane Williamson(c), Devon Conway, Glenn Phillips, James Neesham, Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tim Southee, Ish Sodhi, Trent Boult.
Pakistan – Mohammad Rizwan(w), Haider Ali, Shadab Khan(c), Mohammad Hafeez, Hussain Talat, Iftikhar Ahmed, Khushdil Shah, Faheem Ashraf, Haris Rauf, Shaheen Afridi, Mohammad Hasnain.
With an unassailable 2-0 lead in the bag already, New Zealand will hope to keep their squeaky clean unbeaten record this home summer intact when they lock horns with Pakistan in the third and final T20I of the ongoing series.
The home team snapped their five-match losing streak against Pakistan in T20Is, stretching back to the 2018 home summer, with a comfortable six-wicket win in the curtain raiser in Auckland despite being notably short on experience when they decided to rest nearly all their frontline pacers after hosting West Indies, and with their captain on paternity leave.
However, the youngsters, led by Jacob Duffy’s four-fer on debut, put their hand up as New Zealand exploited home conditions to the hilt. Their series win has been well set up by the seamers, who have consistently hit the hard lengths and asked questions of Pakistan batsmen, who are still finding it difficult to cope with the extra bounce on offer.
With an eye on next year’s T20 World Cup, the hosts dropped under-performing Ross Taylor to give an extended run to young guns like Devon Conway and Glenn Phillips. And even though they haven’t replicated their heroics from the preceding white-ball series against West Indies, New Zealand have been well served by the two half-centuries from Tim Seifert, who has made up for the lack of fireworks from the bat of Martin Guptil. And then, the ever-so-consistent Kane Williamson returned to make short work of Pakistan’s target in second game, well set up by Mohammad Hafeeez’s personal best.
While there is little complaint from their bowling department, Pakistan’s batting hasn’t come to the party. That despite Hafeez putting on a fine T20 batting masterclass with his 99 not out to shoulder much of the responsibility all by himself. The tourists inability to exploit the powerplay – a direct consequence of consistently losing wickets upfront – has impacted the rest, and without their prolific scorer and regular captain, Babar Azam, others haven’t stepped up just as much as Pakistan would have hoped for. The switch in the batting positions of Haider Ali and Abdullah Shafique also hasn’t produced desired results, leaving a lot to be desired in this short turnaround time.
After being schooled by two distinctly different New Zealand sides in as many games, a consolation win in the dead rubber could prove to be a major boost for Pakistan ahead of the Tests on a tour that hasn’t gone their way on or off the field.