Tim Southee, standing in as captain for Kane Williamson, won the toss and elected to bowl first. His decision was well-founded as Pakistan were bundled out for just 105 before the Kiwis made short work of the chase winning with 25 balls to spare.
We look at the good and the bad as Pakistan’s dismal tour continued.
COLIN MUNRO’S PURPLE PATCH SHOWS NO SIGNS OF STOPPING
Munro has been in destructive form since the end of the last year in the Twenty20 format as he became the first man in history to register three tons.
He continued in the same vein on Monday albeit with a relatively small target to chase as his unbeaten 49 made short work of Pakistan’s total. The southpaw was unlucky to remain stranded just one short of what would have been his fourth consecutive T20I fifty.
It was not all plain sailing for the hosts in the chase as they lost Martin Guptill and Glenn Phillips fairly cheaply to be reduced to 14-2 in the first four overs. From then on however, Munro did not give the visitors a sniff with his 43-ball innings which included three boundaries and two sixes.
After having won a crucial toss on a lively surface offering some bounce, the stand-in skipper led by example with the new-ball in hand.
Opening the bowling for the hosts, Southee’s extra bounce outfoxed Fakhar Zaman who could only offer a simple catch to cover while attempting to drive a fuller delivery on the on-side.
Southee then accounted for Mohammad Nawaz who tried to play across the line but a hint of in-swing meant that the batsman ended up chipping the ball to mid-on.
The skipper then capped off a fine performance with the dismissal of tail-ended Faheem Ashraf as he finished with excellent figures of 3-13 in his four overs.
PAKISTAN’S TOP-ORDER PAYS THE PRICE FOR LOOSE SHOTS
While the pitch at Wellington was not an easy one to bat on, the manner of dismissals of Pakistan’s top four in the batting order reflects poorly on the visitors.
Zaman and Nawaz had both fallen to Southee while trying to play across the line. On a surface with some extra bounce and movement, playing across the line was always going to be a risky maneuver and the batsmen ultimately paid the price.
Umar Amin failed to account for the extra bounce like Zaman had done and he could only get a leading edge to a Seth Rance delivery after which Anaru Kitchen completed a stunning catch at point.
Haris Sohail was the next to fall after his loose drive against Kitchen’s flighted delivery went straight into the hands of Tom Bruce at extra-cover to leave Pakistan reeling at 22-4. The damage had been done and there was no recovering for the visitors after this point.
The Pakistan skipper has not had the best of tours personally too with one half-century being his only saving grace with the bat so far.
With the top-order collapsing on Monday, the responsibility was on the captain to stabilize the Pakistan innings and to give some support to Babar Azam who was waging a lone battle at the other end.
However, Sarfraz’s comical dismissal put to an end all hopes of the visitors salvaging a decent total. The skipper attempted to sweep a Mitchell Santner flighted delivery but he too was undone by the extra bounce as he missed. Sarfraz’s front-foot and back-foot slid in the opposite direction as he attempted to sweep, leaving him flat on the ground. With the batman well out of crease, Phillips made on mistake in whipping the bails off swiftly to reduce Pakistan to 38-6 and compound their misery.
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.
“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.
“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.
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.
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.
“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.