Quick forward to their 2020-21 tour of New Zealand, Pakistan will travel to Napier for the third and final T20I of the series. But this time, the series is gone, with the No.1 spot going long before that. Pakistan is no longer at the elite table of T20I cricket. And they don’t seem to have a roadmap to get back there anytime soon. The bowlers who got them there started to fade away; the very word “fielding standards” seemed oxymoronic after the second T20I in Hamilton on Sunday, when Mohammad Rizwan opened the batting, to put it lightly, was sub-optimal.
Of course, the absence of Babar Azam leaves a chasm few sides will know how to cross, but don’t let that con you believe this is a sequence of absences. Pakistan has had Azam available in the slow slide from No. 1; its absence has just intensified its fall to the depths.
None of this is New Zealand’s worry, however, which has scarcely more people in the whole country than the amount of cricket club Pakistan has, and has yet devised a way to create a bench strength in all three formats, like a few sides in world cricket. If it didn’t come from a self-effacing team like New Zealand, you’d imagine the squad they called for the first T20I in Auckland was a gentle showboat. None of Kane Williamson, Tim Southee, Trent Boult, Lockie Ferguson, Kyle Jamieson, and Colin Munro played-all of them absent for a number of reasons, both bowling and top-ranking. But Pakistan was limited to 20 for four in five innings, and went on to complete a routine five-game victory with more than one over to spare.
In the second T20I, with the big guns back, Williamson scored a half-century, and Southee got four buckets, making the home side look even more relaxed. It’s hard to see what Pakistan will do to improve that in Napier, a rot set long before this series, well before Azam’s injury and well before that lengthy quarantine time, which can neither be attributed to those reasons nor resolved immediately. For now, though, they must strive to create an ad hoc protection for respectability. If this series has been finished, Pakistan will want to look across New Zealand-or rather, from four years ago-and see where fresh thought and long-term preparation can be sidelined. You can watch Pak vs NZ Live match from this link.
Pak vs NZ T20I series schedule
18 Dec – 1st T20I in Auckland – match begins 11am PST
20 Dec – 1st T20I in Hamilton – match begins 11am PST
22 Dec – 1st T20I in Napier – match begins 11am PST
Pakistan squad for New Zealand T20Is:
Babar Azam (captain),
Shadab Khan (vice-captain),
Mohammad Musa Khan,
Shaheen Shah Afridi,