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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Jos Buttler‘s superb unbeaten ton was the game-changer for the visitors at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) as they beat the hosts by 16 runs.
Steve Smith won the toss and elected to bowl first and he would have anticipated it was the right decision with England on the ropes in the first 40 overs.
However, Buttler combined with Chris Woakes for some late fireworks to take the visitors to 302-6 in their 50 overs. The hosts could only manage 286-6 as England’s bowlers, especially Mark Wood, kept a tight leash on the batsmen.
Here, we look rate both sets of players from the third ODI.
Aaron Finch 7: The Australian opener looked to be on course for his third ODI hundred on the bounce after racing away to his half-century. He fell for 62 ultimately but his innings did give the hosts a foothold in the big chase.
David Warner 4: Finch’s opening partner has failed to really get going so far in the series and he struggled again on Sunday after pushing a Woakes delivery straight to extra cover to be dismissed for just eight runs.
Cameron White 5: The former T20I skipper’s comeback to the side after all these years hasn’t exactly been the stuff of dreams. Promoted to number three in the batting on Sunday, White got off to a decent start but failed to convert as he knicked a Mark Wood delivery to the wicket-keeper. He dropped a sitter in the field as well.
Steve Smith 7: The Aussie skipper was looking his usual solid self and was set up nicely in the chase as he kept the required-rate under check. However, just when it looked like Smith would take Australia all the way home, Buttler snapped up a terrific catch behind the stumps to send the Ashes hero on his way.
Mitchell Marsh 8: The all-rounder shone with both bat and ball but it wasn’t enough to get the hosts over the line. Picked up the one wicket in his three overs before taking on the mantle of driving Australia’s chase. He registered his 11th ODI fifty in an innings which kept victory within sights for the hosts but holed out to long-on just before the start of the death overs.
Marcus Stoinis 8: The Australian all-rounder gave it his all and there was simply nothing more he could have done on the day. He bowled economically picking up the one wicket before providing the fireworks with the bat in hand as he scored 56 off just 43 deliveries. He was simply left with too much to do when he came out to bat.
Tim Paine 7: The Australian wicket-keeper returned from illness and put in an assured performance with the bat but just like Stoinis, it was too late for him to make a winning impact. He struggled to find the boundaries as the asking-rate kept piling up and Paine remained unbeaten on 31.
Mitchell Starc 5: The Aussie pace spearhead was not at his very best on the day as he went on a wicketless toil. Went for around run-a-ball and failed to create the impact he would have liked.
Pat Cummins 5: After being rested at Brisbane, the pacer was a little wayward to begin with but soon found his rhythm to dismiss Jason Roy. He was taken for some punishment towards the death overs though.
Adam Zampa 6: The leggie was back in the playing XI as Smith elected to go with a specialist spinner and was decent without being outstanding. He did bowl the perfect googly to castle Bairstow’s stumps after setting him beautifully.
Josh Hazlewood 7: The Aussie pacer returned to the side after recovering from the flu and bowled well to pick up the wickets of Joe Root and Eoin Morgan. He was difficult to get away on the Sydney pitch with his nagging line and lengths.
Jason Roy 5: Not the best of days for the England opener whose record-breaking ton in the first ODI is still fresh in the mind. He got off to a good start but drove straight to extra cover just when he seemed to be coming into his groove.
Jonny Bairstow 7: England did not get off to the best opening with the bat but Bairstow soldiered ahead on a two-paced pitch. He looked set to be in for the long haul before being deceived with the perfect googly by Zampa.
Alex Hales 3: A poor day in the office for the big-hitter who failed to find his timing on a difficult pitch. He eventually mistimed a drive to mid-on to end an uncomfortable eight-ball stay at the crease.
Joe Root 6: The Englishman looked to be setting himself up for another big score on his 100th ODI appearance for his country. However, the two-paced nature of the surface did him in as he chopped on to Hazlewood for 27.
Eoin Morgan 7: The skipper dug England out of a hole along with Buttler and was approaching his half-century when he trickled an edge to Paine while trying to run the ball down to third-man. It was an important innings in context of the circumstances.
Jos Buttler 9: The England wicket-keeper batsman did not set a foot wrong all day with a sublime unbeaten ton off just 83 deliveries as he tore into Australia’s bowlers in the final 10 overs. He was excellent behind the stumps too snapping up a great low tumbling catch to send back Smith who was looking extremely good.
Moeen Ali 5: A disappointing day for the all-rounder who once again failed with the bat as his horror run Down Under continued. Ali scored just six runs despite being given a lifeline and then bowled an ordinary spell without any wickets to show for to complete an unremarkable match for him.
Chris Woakes 9: For the second time running, the England all-rounder was superb in all departments. His quick-fire unbeaten fifty along with Buttler’s ton turned the game on its head. He then returned with the ball to pick up two crucial wickets to cap off another fine performance.
Adil Rashid 8: The leg-spinner bowled with good intelligence and variation in a tight spell which kept Australia on the leash. He dismissed Finch with a slider before accounting for Marsh in what was a very crucial period of play. He was much more effective than Zampa was on the same surface showing how handy he is to the limited-overs setup.
Liam Plunkett 5: The tall pacer’s match was cut short just two deliveries into his second over as he went down clutching his hamstring. He did not return to bowl after that though England did well to manage with a bowler short.
Mark Wood 8: The fast-bowler was the pick of England’s bowlers with some extremely tight bowling which never allowed the batsmen to get away. He chipped in with the crucial wickets of Smith and White too to break Australia’s back and lead the visitors to victory.
After the disappointment of the Ashes, England made sure they will return from Down Under with something to cheer about after beating Australia by 16 runs in the third ODI in Sydney to take an unassailable 3-0 lead in the five-match series.
Eoin Morgan‘s men became the first side to beat the hosts in their own backyard in an ODI series since Sri Lanka in 2010-11 after putting up an imposing total of 302-6 in their 50 overs.
In reply, Steve Smith‘s men could only manage 286-6 as they once again failed to translate their dominant Test form to the limited-overs format.
Here, we look at the good and the bad of the most competitive match of the series so far.
JOS BUTTLER CHANGES MOMENTUM WITH SUPERB TON
England did not get off to the best of starts with the bat and with wickets falling at regular intervals, the innings had failed to generate any momentum as we headed into the last 10 overs. Jos Buttler came into bat with the tourists at 107-4 and combined with skipper Eoin Morgan to give some stability to the innings.
The big hits came out as boundaries and sixes flowed like a river at the SCG. The two combined to score 102 runs in the final 10 overs with Buttler completing a sublime fifth ODI ton in the final over of the innings.
The 27-year-old hit four huge sixes at the death to turn the match on its head as England went into the changing room with all the momentum in the world. Australia were left wondering what hit them.
MARK WOOD SHOWS HIS CLASS
The 28-year-old has bowled well with great pace in the series so far but perhaps has not reaped the rewards his bowling deserved.
On Sunday, he showed what a difference he makes for England’s limited-overs setup with a classy spell.
Wood accounted for the big wickets of Steve Smith and Cameron White, having both batsmen caught behind by Buttler. He was extremely economical in his spell too, going for just 46 runs in his quota of 10 overs and his bowling at the death was the final nail in the coffin for the Aussies as the required-rate for the hosts shot up.
Seeing Wood bowl with such pace and accuracy makes one wonder if England missed a trick by not picking him for any of the Ashes Tests.
MOEEN ALI’S MISERABLE AUSTRALIAN SUMMER WITH THE BAT CONTINUES
The England all-rounder had an abysmal Ashes series with both bat and ball, more so the former. After scoring a combined total of just 179 runs in nine innings in the Test series, Ali would have been hoping that the limited-overs format could inspire a turnaround in form and fortunes.
However, the narrative hasn’t changed. After being dismissed for just one run in the win at Brisbane, things did not get any better for the 30-year-old in Sydney.
He was even given a lifeline after Cameron White put down a sitter but failed to make the most of the break. Eventually Ali played on a Mitchell Marsh delivery for just six runs as his miserable form with the bat continued.
AUSTRALIA LET IT SLIP AT THE DEATH
On a pitch where the ball was not coming onto the bat as well as England’s batsmen would have liked, the Aussies had the visitors on the ropes at 189-6 in the 39th over.
That is when it started to go all horribly wrong for the hosts.
The pacers simply had no answer to Buttler’s and Woakes’ late assault as they leaked runs heavily in the final 10 overs of play. Over 100 runs came in the last 60 deliveries as the bowlers continually missed their mark in the midst of some sensational hitting, handing the advantage to the Englishmen at the change of innings.
The bucket-load of runs conceded in the death overs on a difficult wicket was what ultimately cost Australia the match and the series as they allowed England a total which was at least 30 runs over par.