Pakistan will be, for the first time on the tour, confident as they take on New Zealand in the final T20I of the three-match series starting on Sunday at Mount Maunganui.
The visitors have had a tour to forget Down Under as they were whitewashed 5-0 in the ODI series, which was followed by a thrashing in the first T20I at the hands of hosts New Zealand.
However, they came back quite strongly to level the series 1-1 after the Pakistani top-order wreaked havoc on New Zealand bowlers to set a mammoth 202-run target for the hosts. The bowlers then did their bit as the visitors emerged victorious by 48 runs.
The venue — Mount Manganui, a pitch which hasn’t hosted a Test match, but promises to be one of the best for the longest format — will be presenting opportunities to both batsmen and bowlers to shine on the day.
Mood in the Pakistan camp
Pakistan, historically, haven’t had much success in pulling off dramatic victories on tours where they were subdued by opponents, but the visitor’s Champions Trophy triumph, courtesy some outstanding and uncharacteristic performances, showed just why they can never be ruled out.
Considered to be one of the most mercurial sides in the world, Pakistan, led by Sarfraz Ahmed, have the ability and talent to end the series on a high with a series-clinching victory. However, the morale in the camp, even after the last T20I victory, would not be that great.
On their day, Pakistan can be a force to be reckoned with. However, they would need to be on their A game on Sunday if they are to claim the T20I trophy for themselves.
Mood in the New Zealand camp
After humiliating Pakistan 5-0 in the ODIs — a scoreline that still somehow flattered the visitors — and with the T20I series finely poised, you can bet on New Zealand to not lose their cool.
With Kane Williamson at the helm, New Zealand have established themselves as one of the most consistent sides in the last few years, especially after the 50-over World Cup in 2015 that saw the end of Brendon McCullum’s exhilarating and gung-ho brand of cricket.
Such had been New Zealand’s dominance in the opening six games that it seemed their only opponent would be complacency, but in the second T20I they were given a wake-up call that would ensure there is no chance of that in the finale.
In the second T20I, New Zealand perhaps lacked the killer instinct that had seen them brush aside Pakistan so ruthlessly so far.
Dropped catches, fielding mishaps and a few lazy throws meant New Zealand were looking towards Pakistan expecting another easy victory.
Pakistan promptly turned up the volume and gate-crashed the New Zealand party, which they were planning even before it had happened.
But one thing is for sure, you can’t rule out Pakistan because of their unpredictable nature, but New Zealand cannot be written off either. On Sunday, predictability and unpredictability collide in a mouth-watering clash in scenic Mount Maunganui.
Batsmen, bowlers both impressed as Men in Green get first taste of victory on tour
Opener's 50 off 28 helps Men in Green register 48-run victory in second of three-match series
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