After tasting defeat in the first T20I at Wellington, Sarfraz Ahmed’s men came back strongly in the second to tie the series before turning in a fine performance to clinch the decider at Mount Maunganui on Sunday.
The visitors put up 181-6 on the board after winning the toss and batting first, before restricting Kane Williamson’s Blackcaps to 163-6 .
Here, we look at the good and the bad of the final T20I.
FAKHAR ZAMAN FIRES PAKISTAN TO ROLLICKING START
Pakistan have won more often than not when Fakhar Zaman fires at the top.
The left-handed opening batsman’s quick-fire salvos have been the hallmark of Pakistan’s strong run in the limited-overs format in 2017 including their ICC Champions Trophy triumph.
In an encore of the Auckland T20I, Zaman got the visitors off to a great start with his attacking intent.
The opener latched on to any width available to deposit the ball over cover and point in characteristic manner. He raced away to 46 off 35 balls with the help of five boundaries and a six before being caught in the deep off the bowling of Mitchell Santner.
By the time he departed in the 14th over, he had set Pakistan up nicely for a big match-winning total.
SHADAB KHAN BREAKS KIWI RESISTANCE
New Zealand had started well in their chase of 182 with Martin Guptill motoring along nicely to a half century. Young leg-spinner Shadab Khan had been economical in his opening three overs but Guptill had set himself up nicely for the chase with 59 off just 43 deliveries.
With his final over of the day, Shadab quelled the Kiwi resistance for good with two vital wickets.
He first had Anaru Kitchen deceived by the flight and turn as the Blackcaps batsman was stumped by Sarfraz.
The youngster then had Guptill miscue a sweep straight into the hands of Fakhar to all but seal Pakistan’s win. The teenager finished with excellent figures of 2-19 off his four overs to cap off another brilliant display as his stock continues to rise.
ISH SODHI TAKES SOME PUNISHMENT
Ish Sodhi has been a solid and consistent performer for the Blackcaps in this format and his No1 ranking is a testament to that fact. On Sunday though, the leg-spinner failed to find his spot as he was taken to the cleaners by Pakistan’s batsmen.
Even though he claimed the wickets of Babar Azam and Umar Amin, Sodhi was the most expensive of New Zealand’s bowlers.
He was taken for nearly 12 runs an over as Pakistan’s batsmen took a liking to his spin. Sodhi ended with figures of 2-47, one of his worst returns in his T20I career.
KANE WILLIAMSON FAILS WITH THE BAT
With a big total to chase and Guptill firing at the other end, New Zealand needed their skipper to play the role of an anchor, much like he has done in the past.
However, the pressure of the required-rate told on Williamson after he got off to a circumspect start.
After prodding his way to 9 off 13, Williamson cut Faheem Ashraf fiercely but straight into the hands of Azam at point unfortunately.
The right-hander’s departure came at the worst possible time for the Kiwis and without his expertise in anchoring the chase, there was simply too much to do for the rest of the batsmen to come.
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The 31-year-old left-hander, who last played a T20 against England in February last year, was included in the 16-member squad led by Virat Kohli, the Indian cricket board said Sunday. The series starts February 18 in Johannesburg.
India, who lost the Test series against the Proteas 2-1, have six one-day internationals starting February 1 before the T20 games.
India’s squad for the T20I series:
Virat Kohli (capt) Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan, Lokesh Rahul, Suresh Raina, Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Dinesh Karthik, Hardik Pandya, Manish Pandey, Axar Patel, Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Jasprit Bumrah, Jaydev Unadkat, Shardul Thakur
India retained the ICC Test Championship mace and also won an award of $1million after their victory in the Johannesburg Test ensured that South Africa cannot move ahead of them in the MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings at the 3 April cut-off date, even if they go on to win all four Tests against Australia in March.
India had arrived in South Africa on 124 points, with South Africa 13 points behind on 111 points.
However, despite losing the three-Test series 2-1, Virat Kohli’s men will return to 121 points as opposed to South Africa’s 115.
And that is enough for them to keep hold of the prestigious ICC Test Championship mace for the second year in succession at the April cut-off.
Kohli will be presented with the mace, which is a symbol of excellence and a recognition of a side’s outstanding performance in the purest format of the game, and a cheque of $1m in a presentation ceremony, the details of which will be announced in due course.
Kohli had become the 10th captain since 2002 to get his hands on the mace when he had received it from Sunil Gavaskar following the Indore Test against New Zealand in 2016.
Had South Africa pulled off a 3-0 series win against India, then a win by 2-0 or better against Australia would have helped them reclaim the mace they had last won in 2015.
Now, South Africa will have to win at least one Test against Australia to retain second place in the Test table, which, in turn, will earn them $500,000.
In this scenario, Australia will pocket $200,000 for a third place finish. However, if Australia win by 3-0 or 4-0, then they will leapfrog South Africa into second place.
Below is the list of teams finishing at the number-one position at the 1 April cut-off:
2003 – Australia
2004 – Australia
2005 – Australia
2006 – Australia
2007 – Australia
2008 – Australia
2009 – Australia
2010 – India
2011 – India
2012 – England
2013 – South Africa
2014 – South Africa
2015 – South Africa
2016 – Australia
2017 – India
2018 – India
MRF Tyres ICC Test Team Rankings (after the conclusion of South Africa v India Test series):
Rank Team Points
1. India 121 (-3)
2. South Africa 115 (+4)
3. Australia 104
4. New Zealand 100
5. England 99
6. Sri Lanka 94
7. Pakistan 88
8. Windies 72
9. Bangladesh 72
10. Zimbabwe 01