Colin Munro shines as New Zealand thrash Pakistan by seven wickets in first T20I

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Munro's unbeaten 49 saw New Zealand home.

Colin Munro ensured New Zealand continued a stellar home summer on Monday when they thrashed Pakistan by seven wickets with 25 balls to spare in the opening Twenty20 match in Wellington.

Munro was left unbeaten on 49 when a wide by Hasan Ali in the 16th over gave New Zealand victory as they chased down Pakistan’s 105 in the clash of the world’s top two ranked Twenty20 sides.

It extended New Zealand’s winning streak to 13 across all three formats in the past two months including five one-dayers against Pakistan and a series of Tests, ODIs and Twenty20s against the West Indies.

For Tim Southee, the stand-in captain after a late decision to rest Kane Williamson who has a minor injury, everything went according to plan.

“Obviously winning the toss on that wicket and then coming out and taking early wickets was the plan and we were able to do that. We bowled exceptionally well,” said Southee who also paid tribute to Munro’s role with the bat.

“It was a great knock from Colin. He likes to get on with it and I think he played a mature innings and was able to hammer it home towards the end.”

Pakistan captain Sarfraz Ahmed again had to defend a woeful performance by his top order batsmen, which also plagued them in the ODI series, and believed they were well short of a competitive total.

Tim Southee had earlier dismantled Pakistan's top order.

Tim Southee had earlier dismantled Pakistan’s top order.

“We’re not batting well enough up the order. The new ball was swinging and bouncing, we didn’t keep wickets in hand. They bowled very well with the new ball,” he said.

“If we had a score of 140-150 it could have been a good match.”

After a wobbly start in which Martin Guptill went for two and Glenn Phillips was bowled for three, Munro and Tom Bruce (26) set up the New Zealand victory with a 49-run stand for the third wicket.

After cautiously lifting the score to 34 for two after eight overs, they took 23 off the next 12 balls to reduce the target to under six an over and they coasted from there.

Following Bruce’s dismissal, Ross Taylor partnered Munro through to the end with a rapid 22 off 13 deliveries.

Munro’s 43-ball innings included three fours and two sixes and he was left a frustrating one-run short of being only the third player behind Brendon McCullum and Chris Gayle to score four consecutive half centuries in Twenty20 cricket.

Pakistan were in immediate trouble after being sent into bat and were four for 22 in the sixth over as Southee led a dismantling of the Pakistan top order.

By the 15th over, Pakistan were seven for 53 and in danger of falling short of their current lowest score of 74 against Australia six years ago, when Babar Khan (41) and Hasan Ali (23) boosted the total with a 30-run partnership.

Southee finished with the best New Zealand figures of three for 13 while Seth Rance took three for 26.

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Team India get back to basics as another greenish pitch looms for final Test against South Africa

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Pandya, Karthik and Bumrah take a breather. Credit : BCCI Twitter

After being given three days off following the loss in the second Test at Centurion to South Africa, India’s players were back at the nets on Sunday at the Wanderers in preparation for the final Test.

Skipper Virat Kohli, Murali Vijay, KL Rahul, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ajinkya Rahane and Dinesh Karthik were all seen having extended batting sessions at the nets.

The Indians were also seen practising their slip-fielding which has been a major letdown in the series so far.

The No.1 ranked Test side in the world will be looking to end the series on a high as they seek to prevent a first-ever whitewash on South African shores.

However, things will not be easy for the batsmen once again if the words of the Wanderers’ curator Bethuel Buthelezi are anything to go by.

Batsmen at work in the nets. Credit: BCCI Twitter

Batsmen at work in the nets. Credit: BCCI Twitter

“I have left sufficient green grass on it and I will not be shaving it off again before the match. We will be watering it again before the game. Unlike Centurion, there is no chance of sun burning out this grass because the ground is well watered,” the chief-curator  told PTI.

“I have listened to the demands of the South African team and prepared this pitch accordingly. There won’t be any spin available here, but there will be ample pace and bounce for which this ground is well known,” he added.

Buthelezi fully expects a result in the third Test unlike the last time the two sides played at the venue in 2013.

“There will also be some lateral movement on account of the grass. Unlike 2013 , this is a more result-oriented pitch,” he stated.

India’s batsman have endured a torrid time on the greenish surfaces so far on the tour with Virat Kohli’s 153 in the second Test and Hardik Pandya’s 93 in the first being the only innings of note.

The third and final Test between the two sides gets underway on Wednesday before the action shifts over to the limited-overs matches.

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IPL auction looming large for New Zealand stars as hosts prepare to face Pakistan in T20I series

Ashish Peter 21/01/2018
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Several Kiwis including the skipper are in the fray for the IPL auction.

After being whitewashed 5-0 in the ODI series, Pakistan will be hoping for a change in fortunes when they take on hosts New Zealand in the first of the three T20Is at Wellington on Monday.

Sarfraz Ahmed’s men have not had the best of starts to 2018 after a sensational run last year where they stunned India to lift the ICC Champions Trophy in England.

Kane Williamson’s men on the other hand have kicked off 2018 in perfect fashion and will fancy themselves once again in the shortest format of the game against the subcontinent visitors.

We look at the key talking points ahead of the first T20I.

PAKISTAN LOOK TO END THEIR KIWI JINX

Since beating New Zealand in the first T20I at Eden Park in 2016, Pakistan have endured a dismal run against the opposition. They have lost 12 matches across all formats since that win culminating in the 5-0 thrashing in the ODI series.

The momentum lies with the Black Caps currently but as with any Pakistan side over the years, you never know what you will get on the day as they range from the sublime to the ridiculous. Breaking this stronghold that the Kiwis have on them will be the first thing on their mind when they line up at the Westpac stadium on Monday.

Pakistan will look to break a 12-match losing streak against New Zealand.

Pakistan will look to break a 12-match losing streak against New Zealand.

BLACKCAPS FRESHEN UP SQUAD FOR T20Is

While they were unstoppable in the ODIs, the Kiwis have rested some of their big guns in the form of Trent Boult and Lockie Ferguson for the first T20 as they look to keep things fresh.

Into the side come the likes the Ish Sodhi, Ben Wheeler, Glenn Phillips and Tom Bruce, all in great form when it comes to the 20-over game. They have been performing well in the domestic Super Smash T20 competition and will be looking to continue that form in the series against Pakistan.

Sodhi in particular has been a revelation in the limited-overs format and his bowling will be key for New Zealand in the three-match series.

Ish Sodhi has been on fire in T20 cricket of late.

Ish Sodhi has been on fire in T20 cricket of late.

IN-FORM AHMED SHEHZAD RETURNS FOR PAKISTAN

Pakistan suffered a big blow before the series has even started after stalwart Shoaib Malik was ruled out for all three matches. Malik showed signs of delayed concussion after getting hit by a Colin Munro throw in the fourth ODI and has returned home to recuperate.

However, the visitors will be buoyed to have Ahmed Shehzad back for the T20Is. The right-handed batsman has been going through a purple patch in the format with two fifties in his last six appearances.

He will open the innings with Fakhar Zaman and together, the two will be hoping to get Pakistan off to a great start.

Pakistan will be be glad to have an in-form Shehzad back.

Pakistan will be be glad to have an in-form Shehzad back.

TUSSLE FOR THE NO.1 SPOT

The series will see a battle between the No.1 and No.2 ranked T20I sides in the world and as such, plenty will be at stake.

Just two points separate second-place Pakistan from the top-ranked Kiwis and they will be hoping to secure a series victory to leapfrog them in the standings.

Pakistan have won their last five bilateral T20I series while the hosts are fresh from their 2-0 victory over the World Twenty20 champions West Indies.

Pakistan will look to dislodge New Zealand from the top of the standings.

Pakistan will look to dislodge New Zealand from the top of the standings.

IPL BONANZA ON THE CARDS FOR KIWIS

In less than a week, the hugely-anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) auction is set to get underway. While Pakistan’s players will not be in contention, it will be very keenly followed by those in the New Zealand side.

The likes of Kane Williamson, Colin Munro, Ross Taylor, Ish Sodhi, Martin Guptill, Mitchell Santner and Glenn Phillips will be all hoping to catch the eye of the franchises with their performances having thrown their hat into the auction ring.

The Kiwis have always been a huge draw at the IPL and with some really exciting T20 talent at their disposal, they sure will be looking to make a big splash this time around too.

Many IPL franchises will be looking at Munro in the auction.

Many IPL franchises will be looking at Munro in the auction.

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