As far as introductions to international cricket go, spare a thought for new Black Caps coach Gary Stead.

Hired as Mike Hesson's successor in August, Stead gets his first chance to showcase his imprint on the national side as they return from a seven-month hiatus tomorrow morning with a Twenty20 against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

While Pakistan may not have the name recognition or fear factor possessed by the likes of India or South Africa, it's impossible to find a more dominant stretch than that produced by Mickey Arthur's men in the shortest format over the past two years.

General consensus would insist that Twenty20 is easily cricket's most unpredictable format, but Pakistan are coming close to completely quashing that theory. In their last 30 T20 outings, Pakistan have remarkably only suffered four losses; in the process reeling off 10 consecutive series victories.


It's no surprise they are ranked the world's best T20 side - having taken over from the Black Caps in January - and just last week swatted aside Australia in a crushing 3-0 series sweep.

At the heart of their success has been the ability to deftly use the conditions of their makeshift home base. The UAE pitches favour slow bowlers, with scores in the 150s usually a competitive total.

Australia found that out the hard way. Set 156, 148 and 151 to win, they could muster only 89, 136-8 and 117, as Pakistan's wily bowlers tied them down.

In Imad Wasim and 20-year-old legspinner Shadab Khan, Pakistan have two of the world's best T20 bowlers, and lest you think they don't have batting firepower, Babar Azam has risen to the top of the T20 batting world rankings, averaging an absurd 56.6 at a strike rate of 126.

All up, it presents a serious challenge for a Black Caps side relying on some inexperienced faces.

Martin Guptill, Trent Boult and Mitchell Santner are all missing, leaving opportunities for the likes of young trio Mark Chapman, Glenn Phillips and Tim Seifert to step up.

A lot will also depend on whether Colin Munro can deliver at the top of the order, and the destructive hitter is aware of the daunting task lying in wait tomorrow morning.

"It's a big challenge - especially in these conditions and with a few guys coming straight out of winter and not having played a lot of cricket," said Munro.


"They're usually lower wickets here and a little bit slower - we saw in the Aussie series that it's a little bit lower than back home.

"But even in these conditions, if we play to our potential, we can beat anyone on the day."

Considering Pakistan's recent dominance, there's little doubt that to win the series, the Black Caps will have to fully deliver on that potential.